The Clinical Nurse Specialist
One of the recommendations published in the newly updated NICE guidance on Prostate Cancer (2014) is: ‘Offer men with prostate cancer individualised information tailored to their own needs. This information should be given by a healthcare professional (for example a consultant or specialist nurse) and may be supported by written and visual media (for example, slide sets or DVDs).’
Urological Clinical Nurse Specialists play an important role as keyworkers in caring for a prostate cancer patient. They have specialist knowledge which can be invaluable to a patient and his family, enabling them to ask detailed questions which they may feel uncomfortable posing to a consultant, with whom they will generally spend less time. Similarly, nurse specialists should be on hand to help manage more complex symptoms or side effects associated with prostate cancer.
Most Urology departments have specialist nurses dealing with incontinence and erectile dysfunction problems. Prostate cancer is by far the most common form of tumour for which a urological nurse specialist will be responsible. Unfortunately there is a shortage of these nurses across the country.
The Improving Outcomes Guidance for Urological Cancers is explicit on the importance of Nurse Specialists: ‘All patients with urological cancers should be managed by multidisciplinary urological cancer teams. These teams should function in the context of dedicated specialist services… Nurse Specialist members of urological cancer teams will have key roles in these services.’
The 2014 NICE guidelines also state: ‘Patients and healthcare professionals have rights and responsibilities as set out in the NHS Constitution for England … Treatment and care should take into account individual needs and preferences. Patients should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their care and treatment, in partnership with their healthcare professional.’
You are only able to make an informed decision if you have been given and understand the full facts about your cancer by a nurse specialist or a consultant. The guidelines go on to state: 'Offer men with prostate cancer advice on how to access information and support from websites, local and national services, and from cancer support groups.’
A Clinical Nurse Specialist can play a vital role in your cancer journey
– make sure one is looking after you!