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Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Men with Testicular Cancer through Information and Support

  • Leader(s)
  • Location
  • Duration
  • Received for Publication
  • Wendy McPhee, Macmillan Uro-Oncology Project Nurse
  • Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
  • December 2012 – July 2014
  • June 2015
  • Summary of Initiative
  • The Northern Ireland Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital hosts the specialist tertiary centre for testicular cancer. Approximately 70 men are diagnosed every year, attending for treatment and surveillance from all areas of Northern Ireland, some having to travel over 100 miles for their appointments at the cancer centre.

    The diagnosis of cancer can be devastating for all patients but the very nature of testicular cancer in young men is particularly difficult. Despite a high cure rate, patients suffer significant complex physical, psychological and social morbidity due to the nature of the diagnosis and treatment. They find these difficult to address leading to tendencies of non-compliance with treatment and follow up which can be life threatening. Evidence shows that many cancer survivors have unmet needs, particularly at the end of treatment, whilst others struggle with the consequences of this treatment. One of the key interventions that could make a difference is patient education and support events.

    One of the projects undertaken by the project leader as part of her post in 2012 was to pilot two nurse-led health and wellbeing events for men with testicular cancer. At the time there was a lack of specific information, support and holistic care for this group of patients within the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust; these events were designed to address these unmet needs. Following two well evaluated pilot events a need was identified to take these events ‘closer to home’; tomore non-clinical locations such as sports/community centres in both town and rural communities; and to socially deprived areas around Northern Ireland.

    The aim of the project was to develop and implement four health and wellbeing events for men with testicular cancer, in community locations in Northern Ireland. The methods and approaches used within the project were:

    • Collection of baseline data
    • Developing and delivery of the events
    • Patient, carer and staff evaluations

    The outcomes from the project included introducing patients and their wives/partners and carers to a range of local services and resources - both clinical and non-clinical such as counselling, complementary therapies and benefits advice to address their physical, emotional, social and financial needs. Provision of information on cancer recurrence, long-term side effects of treatment, self-management, diet, exercise and life style advice led to improved patient education and self-management leading to earlier interventions, which are linked to improved outcomes and more appropriate use of services. The health and wellbeing events also gave patients and carers the opportunity to speak about difficult subjects in a safe well-supported environment.

    While the local, ‘closer to home’ events were evaluated well, it was eventually decided, for a number of reasons, that more centralised events would be more sustainable, giving all the information and support benefits of the local meetings, while minimising the demands on staff and patients alike. 

    This project was supported by the Foundation of Nursing Studies Patients First Programme in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing.