Prostate cancer during a second-wave of COVID-19: what we’re doing for men this winter.
With COVID-19 cases high, and measures to control the spread of the virus still in place - concerns around treatment delays and coronavirus itself remain. But as ever, we’re here for men through this winter.
Men with prostate cancer and those who suspect cancer symptoms have faced challenges this year, with many worried about their risk of catching the virus during or after treatment. Treatment delays and uncertainty have been another concern.
Throughout the year, we’ve worked with clinicians across the UK to learn about the disruption COVID-19 has had on NHS care. Our Specialist Nurses have listened to and supported thousands of men, and used their needs to guide the action we take and information we provide. We’ve been working to support clinicians to get services back on track, while advocating for what men need from national NHS decision-makers.
This winter might be difficult for many reasons, but there’s also reasons to be optimistic. Here’s what we’re doing to support men right now, and one powerful thing you can do to help us help you.
Putting pressure on the government to protect cancer services
Our CEO signed an open letter with cancer charities and health professionals calling for cancer services to be protected during the second wave of COVID-19. "Now is the time to back the NHS and invest in cancer care. We simply need more staff, and for them to be fully equipped."
📣 We joined forces with cancer charities and health professionals calling for cancer services to be protected during the second wave of #COVID19. "Now is the time to back the NHS and invest in cancer care." "We simply need more staff, and for them to be fully equipped." pic.twitter.com/EtaN5mSjrT— Prostate UK Voice (@ProstateUKVoice) November 9, 2020
Keeping you informed with the latest information on prostate cancer and COVID-19
In this unpredictable time, it can be difficult to stay on top of healthcare changes. That’s why we share the most common questions men have been asking our Specialist Nurses in recent months, as well as information about how to get support. We also have ideas for looking after your emotional wellbeing, including tips from one of our supporters, Elvis, who has shared his real-life experience of living through the coronavirus pandemic.
Finding men at risk with the thirty-second risk-checker
The impact of COVID-19 on men being able to easily visit the doctor, and the strain on our healthcare system, meant thousands across the UK could have undetected cancer and risk being diagnosed too late in the future. We’ve seen the biggest drop in referrals for suspected cancer in 10 years.
When prostate cancer is in its early stages it often doesn’t have any symptoms, so we need men at risk; that’s men over 50, black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer to be aware of their risk and speak to their GP about it.
That’s why we asked you to use and share our thirty-second risk-checker. It asks three simple questions on age, ethnicity and family history of prostate cancer to identify men at higher risk and give them the tools and knowledge to speak to their doctor.
Our campaign is off to a great start thanks to you. But we must keep up momentum over the coming months. Over 100,000 men at higher risk have used our risk checker, found out their risk level and used our information to help make the conversation with their GP easier. Our Specialist Nurses also hosted a webinar on prostate cancer, and what to expect when you speak to the doctor.
Making sure men get safe access to the best drugs
Many men who were newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer were unable to access chemotherapy due to its effect on the immune system, which could increase their risk of COVID-19. We immediately stepped in at the beginning of the pandemic and asked NHS England to make the latest hormone therapies available for these men, these have equivalent survival benefit without the same impact on the immune system. NHS England answered our plea and men are continuing to have treatment that’s just as effective from the comfort of their homes. A huge win, thanks to you.
Last month we announced we’re a step closer to making one of these hormone therapies, Abiraterone, permanently available to men who can’t receive chemotherapy. NICE, who decide if new treatments can be available on the NHS, announced they’ve upheld our appeal against their refusal to make abiraterone available for men newly diagnosed with high-risk advanced prostate cancer. We’re expecting the final decision in December.
Has your prostate cancer diagnosis or treatment been affected by Covid-19?
Here’s how you can help. We need your stories and experiences to add power to our message when we represent men in the media and through our policy work.
Share your story with us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if your diagnosis and treatment has been affected during the pandemic
Get the support you need, your way.
Our Specialist Nurses are here to answer questions on symptoms, treatment, side effects and to give emotional support to men and their loved ones. You can also share your experience and learn from others on our online forums or in virtual support groups.
Over the next few months we’ll be focusing on emotional support during the pandemic. Keep an eye on our social channels.