We hear about breakthroughs in cancer treatments on the news nearly every day but the fact that for more and more people cancer is becoming a chronic illnes is less often mentioned. Prostate cancer, as a cancer with a slower progress, and treatments available that can further slow its progress or cure it in many cases, is a model for what is likely to happen with more cancers in the future as new cancer treatments are developed.
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Our study, funded by beyondblue, looked at a manualised couples therapy designed to be offered to any man with early stage prostate cancer and his partner as a preventative measure to reduce the likelihood of stress developing in the couple's relationship as they grapple with the inevitable physical changes brought about in the man by both the cancer and its treatments. We showed that, especially in "younger" couples (less than 65 years of age), the therapy was acceptable and effective in improving their relational function six months after baseline. Our team at Peter Mac is now teaming with the charity Movember to look at how to make this preventative psychological intervention scaleable and accessible to couples who live across Australia including those living outside metropolitan areas using videoconferencing technology. We also plan to develop adaptations of CECT for men without partners and alternative interventions for men facing advanced prostate cancer.
Jeremy Couper MBBS, MMed (psych), MD, FRANZCP
Head, Department of Psychiatry
Co-Director, Psycho-oncology Research Unit
Chair, Victorian Psychiatry Training Committee, RANZCP