We believe quality of life is just as important as length of life both for men living with prostate cancer and those who are post-treatment. When these men are faced with ongoing challenges and side effects, it’s important for them to know they’re not alone.
Even under the best of circumstances, a cancer diagnosis brings uncertainty. In the climate of a global pandemic, men and their loved ones continue to face increasing anxiety and insecurity about their cancer care.
Trusted resources are out there to help manage side effects and take action to improve men’s overall health and wellbeing. At a time when the impacts of COVID-19 challenge the typical care and support cancer patients receive, telehealth and web-based resources can help bridge the gap and provide the care men need.
More than 3 million American men have survived prostate cancer. Last year, the American Cancer Society estimated that approximately 192,930 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States in 2020. However, this year has been far from typical and the full impacts on cancer diagnoses, treatment, and care are still unknown.
As COVID-19 makes its way across the United States, oncologists and patients have had to take drastic steps to withstand the impact of the crisis and what it means for both diagnosing and managing cancer care. Since those of older age may have other chronic health conditions, and with cancer patients being more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, patients and healthcare professionals must weigh the benefits of routine cancer care with the risks associated with COVID-19.
While some men with low-risk prostate cancer may be able to safely delay treatments, there is a benefit to receiving routine care for localized cancer care. Many men still require follow-ups and many are currently recovering from treatment.
With the recommendations and guidelines on returning to clinics changing regularly, it can be confusing or overwhelming for men to understand what to do or where to turn. What remains critically important is that men continue to receive accurate information about their health and continue to talk to their doctors about what is best for them.
Remote telehealth visits by phone or video can still maintain the flow of discussions and follow-up visits. Organizations like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Urological Association, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology emphasize the importance of telehealth follow-up care, as well as the importance of routine care for men who are in post-treatment for prostate cancer.
To make access easier for everyone, Medicare now covers telehealth services, including video calls and telephone calls between patients and healthcare providers. If there is just one positive outcome from this pandemic, it’s that digital care tools and telemedicine have become more possible and increasingly indispensable.
Finding True North
The importance of online health resources and telehealth has always been a driving principle in Movember’s prostate cancer survivorship strategy. With open access websites launched around the world, Movember’s innovative True North program now operates across eight countries, giving men living with prostate cancer access to online self-management information and tools.
True North provides men and their loved ones with access to information about exercise, diet, mental health, well-being, symptom management for urinary and bowel symptoms, and sexual health. The articles in True North are meant to inform and make recommendations about actions men can take to improve their health and well-being, while also recommending useful resources.
Quality health information is not the only key aspect of True North. The experiences of men and what they are experiencing throughout their cancer journey is at the heart of the initiative.
True North is also used across various national and international research projects and cancer registries so men can answer questions about their experiences before and after treatment, and talk about how they’re doing. That information is shared with their doctors and then is leveraged to advance the quality of prostate cancer care for men in the future.
In the face of adversity
Improving the lives of men with prostate cancer doesn’t stop because of COVID-19. We are all challenged to reach and support men in a different way. These current developments in telehealth and online resources will likely outlast the immediate realities we’re facing.
At a time where men cannot clinically receive the support and care they normally would, reputable information is more important than ever. Movember continues to be dedicated to responding to the needs of men and connecting the world’s leading experts in prostate cancer research, treatment, and care to provide helpful tools and resources to better the lives of men in our community and beyond.