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Revolutionising care for prostate cancer patients

Published: 21 May 2019
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The study showed that outcomes were the same or even better for men than traditional follow-up care.

An innovative new digital model of follow-up care for prostate cancer allows patients to see test results online as soon as they become available, after a report was published in BMC Cancer.

Researchers from the University of Southampton, funded by the Movember Foundation and delivered in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK, trialled the True NTH Supported Self-Management programme in five NHS Trusts, developing a full toolkit to allow other healthcare providers to adopt it.

The pioneering development gives men access to view their PSA blood test results as soon as they are uploaded by the lab, as well as complete assessments, view patient information and message their clinical team – removing the need for routine appointments unless essential.

They also take part in a workshop and are given a dedicated support worker to help them manage their care.

The study, which ran for three years and involved 2,675 men and 250 workshops, showed that outcomes were the same or even better for men than traditional follow-up care, with lower per patient costs.

Although clinical teams initially had concerns about patients having access to results before clinicians had assessed them, the project showed men were not adversely affected even if their test results were abnormal.

Alison Richardson, Professor in Cancer Nursing and End of Life Care at the University of Southampton and chief investigator on the study, said: “The management of follow-up for men who have prostate cancer varies widely, with many men worrying while they wait for their PSA results, unsure of how to access support if they have any problems as a result of their cancer and its treatment.

"If implemented properly, this model gives men back control over their own follow up while ensuring they can still access the support and care they need.

“That’s why it is so important that NHS trusts take into account the three key elements that make this model work. Without preparation for supported self-management through the workshop, access to a support worker and a well-functioning IT platform, men will find it difficult access the standard of care they need.”

To deliver the new model of care, three innovations were needed – a new support worker to support men without adding to demands on clinical staff, the supported self-management workshop to ensure men fully understand the scheme and their treatment, and an IT service which allows them to access their PSA test results remotely.

Eric Hounslow, 71, from Romsey, who took part in the self-management trial at University Hospital Southampton, said: “My first cancer, which was unrelated, was kidney cancer. I had surgery six years ago and it went well but my follow-up care was under the old scheme where you had to wait to find out any results.

“It’s an extremely tense time because so much rests on what they’re going to tell you. You’re praying for good news but waiting a week or more to find out.

“Now I can give my blood at 9am and have the results later that day, saving me from all that stress every six months. As someone who has experienced both systems I’d recommend this scheme to anyone.”

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