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3rd June 2024 Latest News

Let’s talk about sex: asking for help after prostate cancer treatment

Dr Kerri Beckmann report card

Men with prostate cancer have high levels of unmet need when it comes to the loss of sexual function after treatment, yet most don’t seek help.  

But Dr Kerri Beckmann, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of South Australia, hopes to change that. 

Thanks to funding from Australian Prostate Cancer (APC), a charity of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, Dr Beckmann is working to identify the factors that either prevent or encourage men to seek out help when it comes to their sexual concerns after treatment. 

Dr Beckmann said she hoped this could help develop better pathways for men to access the help they need when it comes to their sexual health. 

“There’s no real guidance for men around this, so the final component of this study will be pulling all of our data together and making some recommendations to go forward that might have some impact,” she said. 

“We will be developing a consumer-based report to share our findings and recommendations with the aim to improve the pathways for men to get help with sexual concerns after prostate cancer.” 

This project was born out of findings during the development of a report card for prostate cancer patients, which was backed by a grant from APC in 2020. 

Consumers highlighted a clear need for better support and access to more information about sexual dysfunction, prompting Dr Beckmann to expand her research. 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian males, with about one in six men likely to be diagnosed by the age of 85. 

An analysis of existing patient data by research associate Dr Megan Charlick found that key barriers or facilitators for seeking help for sexual health issues included age, support from partners and healthcare professionals, cost, and feelings of shame or embarrassment. 

Dr Charlick said a holistic approach is needed when it comes to addressing these shortfalls. 

“We are looking at it from the top down and the bottom up and asking how do we make the overall outcome better for the patient,” she said. 

The team also found that there was a significant decrease in sexual function after treatment, with some turning to aids for help, though satisfaction with these was generally low. 

Patient interviews and surveys to better understand the level of unmet need is currently underway, with results expected to be published later this year. 

We look forward to keeping you updated on this project!