Clinical guidelines driving excellence in prostate cancer sexual health care

Dr.Daniela Wittmann, Associate Professor, Department of Urology at The University of Michigan

New clinical practice guidelines were launched recently, generated through the collaboration of a 37-member panel of experts across 14 countries with analysis of 25yrs of scientific research, which led to the introduction of a standard of excellence in prostate cancer sexual health care.

What do the guidelines recommend?

Guidelines for Sexual Health Care for Prostate Cancer Patients: Recommendations of an International Panel provides a first of its kind evidence & expert opinion-based framework that is inclusive for all prostate cancer survivors who have undertaken treatment & their partners.

Published following a thorough peer review process in The Journal of Sexual Medicine and developed with support from the leading men’s health charity Movember, the guidelines will support clinicians to assess and manage the sexual side effects of prostate cancer therapies and facilitate shared decision-making between clinicians, patients and their partners.

Prostate cancer therapies can negatively impact patients’ sexual function; this can change their relationship with their partner & remains the most reported unmet care need. Reliable info is not always available, contributing to distress & relationship breakdowns.

Across the world, 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, with almost 10 million living with or beyond the disease.1 Through a global collaboration of sexual health clinicians, researchers, physicians, nurses, psychologists, physical therapists, social workers, and prostate cancer survivors and their partners, 47 statements and recommendations provide clinicians with a framework to address sexual health challenges in prostate cancer.

The framework aims to summarise the evidence, enable clinicians to empower patients & increase their preparedness to initiate sensitive conversations about sexual concerns. Through a biopsychosocial perspective, the guidelines emphasise tailoring counselling to the cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual & gender needs of individual prostate cancer patients & their partners.

What were the thoughts of the executives?

Lead Guidelines Author, Daniela Wittmann, PhD, MSW, and Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Michigan, said: “These guidelines were informed not only by evidence, but also by listening to people with prostate cancer & their partners.”

“Addressing sexual health is the responsibility of every clinician of every discipline who touches the life of a prostate cancer patient. Now we have an inclusive roadmap that will allow healthcare providers to address the needs of their patients,” Dr. Daniela added.

“By understanding the fact that many prostate cancer patients live long lives, some with partners, requires us to help protect and enhance the quality of their lives in survivorship. By including sexual health as a part of usual care, we will be responding to significant unmet needs and achieve a new standard of care,” Dr. Daniela also said inconclusion.

Kellie Paich, MPH, Global Director, Clinical Quality and Survivorship at Movember, said: “Historically the delivery of sexual health care services for people with prostate cancer has been neither sufficient nor inclusive. Understanding how societal and cultural norms, help-seeking behaviours and the social determinants of health may influence an individual person — or an entire community — is essential to understanding how to shape their care.”

“Movember takes our responsibility to be the voice of those we serve seriously. We know that sex remains an important part of life for many people living with prostate cancer and their partners, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender identity. By uniting healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive, inclusive, multi-disciplinary care, we can begin to transform sexual health care in prostate cancer,” Kellie said in conclusion.