Doctor patient

Gold Coast’s first prostate cancer nurse set to improve cancer outcomes

Gold Coast men with prostate cancer now have access to specialised support, with a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse now based at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

The new nurse, Christian Morqueda, will be part of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s Specialist Nursing Service, helping to improve outcomes for local men impacted by the disease.

Australia has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, with one in every six Australian men likely to be diagnosed by age 85.

Gold Coast Health Acting Assistant Director of Nursing, Cancer and Specialty Services, Renee Woodfield welcomed Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse Christian Morqueda to the role.

“About 500 men on the Gold Coast are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and many of them will need ongoing care and support in the days, months and years after treatment,” Renee said.

“The appointment of Christian will vastly improve the support available to local men and families impacted by the disease, giving men much greater confidence that they can navigate the challenges of prostate cancer with all the support they need.

“We’re proud to partner with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to deliver this life-changing service.”

The role has been made possible thanks to vital funds raised at the 2019 ‘Wagners It’s A Bloke Thing’ annual Gold Coast charity luncheon, where a phenomenal $400,000 was raised.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said generosity from the community has ensured that hundreds of local men will benefit from more specialised support.

“Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in Australian men, with about 16,700 men newly diagnosed each year. Sadly, each year in Australia about 3,100 men will die from the disease,” he said.

“About one in five men with prostate cancer experience long-term anxiety and depression and many will struggle to cope with the challenges of diagnosis and treatment. Specialist nurses play a critical role in providing guidance, care and support.

“From the point of diagnosis, the nurse will offer expert education and information about treatment plans, referrals to services, and provide an ongoing point of contact and support for men and families.

“Good support and connection to information and services is incredibly important after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.”

The next It’s A Bloke Thing luncheon will be held on the Gold Coast on Friday, May 14 at Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove in support of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

It’s A Bloke Thing spokesperson Marcus Barnard said they’re proud to play a role in improving health care for men on the Gold Coast.

“It’s A Bloke Thing is all about raising vital funds and awareness in support of prostate cancer research, care and education. This ensures that men diagnosed have access to improved support,” Marcus said.

“As a result of our luncheons, we’ve been able to help fund Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses in Toowoomba, Darwin and now the Gold Coast. We can’t thank the community enough for their ongoing support – together, we’re making a tangible difference to men impacted by cancer.”

For more information about prostate cancer, and the Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse program, visit pcfa.org.au.

WATCH: New dry eye treatment now available on the Gold Coast

A new non-invasive treatment for dry eyes is now available on the Gold Coast, giving sufferers relief without constantly using eye drops.

Eyecare Plus at Mermaid Beach is the first optometrist on the Gold Coast to offer Rexon-Eye, which is clinically proven to effectively treat Dry Eye Disease.

Optometrist Jackson Yip said the treatment was a game-changer, and involves a patient wearing a special mask with electrodes for 20 minutes, once-a-week for four weeks.

“It works by stimulating the oil glands that are along the edge of the eyelid, while also stimulating the lacrimal gland that produces the moisture for the eye,” he told myGC.

See how the Rexon-Eye treatment works in the video below:

Optometrist Dr Yip said there is no downtime for patients, and the treatment is effective for up to 18 months.

“The benefits of this treatment is that is can provide long lasting relief for patients who have been suffering for many years who have used drops day-in, day-out and honestly can’t find a solution,” he said.

“There’s a few treatments that have come and gone, but this is really the one to stay and it is doing wonders for patients right now.”

For more information on the Rexon-Eye treatment or to book an appointment, visit: eyecareplusmermaidbeach.com.au/

This is a sponsored editorial brought to you by Eyecare Plus Mermaid Beach.

 

New Gold Coast volunteers provide mateship to prostate cancer patients

Men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer on the Gold Coast will now have mates they can turn to for support, thanks to a new program by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Launched this week, the MatesCONNECT program connects newly diagnosed men with trained volunteers who have been through the disease in an effort to provide more local support services.

PCFA CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said the service will provide a vital network of support on the Gold Coast for men impacted by prostate cancer.

“About 570 Gold Coast men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. This program will ensure they receive the type of support that can only be offered by those who understand what living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer is like,” Prof Dunn said.

“Men can get practical advice on surgery and treatment, and the side effects of treatment, such as incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and coping with hormone therapy.

“About one in five Gold Coast men with prostate cancer will experience long-term anxiety and depression. Of great concern, men with prostate cancer also face a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide compared to the general population.

“MatesCONNECT will provide vital support to ensure these men do not suffer alone.”

PCFA’s Head of Community Services, Chris McNamara, said their first volunteer had been trained to provide the service and is ready and available to lend a hand to men impacted by the disease.

“While our volunteers can’t offer medical advice, they can be there as a mate and provide newly diagnosed patients with an understanding of what to expect and provide a practical and supportive insight into living with prostate cancer,” he said.

“It’s common for men to struggle with understanding their treatment options and many are unable to access evidence-based information about the pros and cons of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment or hormone therapy.

“This program will be a game-changer for men on the Gold Coast affected by prostate cancer. Importantly, the program responds to the evidence that men who have a lived experience of prostate cancer can be a source of great strength and support for those newly impacted by the disease.

“Those who understand what it’s like to live through a diagnosis are well-placed to offer emotional and informational support to other men, and provide solidarity throughout survivorship, when many men face ongoing side-effects from their treatment.”

MatesCONNECT Gold Coast has been made possible thanks to a $25,000 grant from The James Frizelle Charitable Foundation.

MatesCONNECT volunteer, John Caldwell, said after his own experience with prostate cancer, he’s thankful to have the opportunity to support other men through their diagnosis.

“I was not in a good space was in when I was diagnosed in 2009 and would have found a service like this helpful. I feel that I can help others get through it and make it easier for them,” the Parkwood local said.

“When diagnosed, you don’t always get information about the long-term side effects and mental trauma that can result from some of the treatments, so it’s important to have someone there who can help provide that information and help you through it.”

For more information about Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and MatesCONNECT, phone 1800 22 00 99 or visit pcfa.org.au.

WATCH: A new heart scanning device at Amtan Medical Centres is helping to detect heart failure earlier

Checking your heart health has become a whole lot easier, thanks to new technology now available at Amtan Medical Centres across the Gold Coast.

Called a Butterfly iQ, the hand-held ultrasound scanning device is able to show imagery of a patient’s heart almost instantly on a smart device.

“By seeing the heart function via an ultrasound in our clinics, we can detect early stages of heart disease without having to wait for a hospital visit to be scheduled and results to be sent to us,” Amtan co-owner, Dr Ameer Hamza told myGC.

“Now we have a technology that can detect heart disease within a few minutes. We can see how the heart is pumping, how the heart is moving and how the heart valves are doing.”

See how the Butterfly iQ device works in the video below:

Dr Hamza said Amtan Medical Centres were the first general practices in Australia to use the device.

“We have been using this device for the last four months as a trial. Out of the first 100 patients, we had five heart failures detected, which is a significant number. The result is overwhelming. This is definitely going to save lives.”

“Heart failure is a very silent disease often not detected until it is too late. People often put off having thorough heart check-ups, especially during the last 12 months when COVID resulted in us staying home more,” he said.

“Now when patients visit our clinics, they can have their heart scanned as part of a regular check-up.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve patient care and grow early detection of any health issues. Butterfly iQ will be an important part of our consultation process moving forward.”

For more information on the Butterfly iQ and Amtan Medical Centres, visit: amtanmedical.com.au/

This is a sponsored editorial brought to you by Amtan Medical Centres.

 

 

Endometriosis Awareness Month: What women need to know

One in 10 Australian women are living with endometriosis, with many unaware they are suffering with the chronic condition.

General Practitioner, Women’s Health Dr Donna Tanchev said women must be aware that painful periods and pelvic pain are not normal and should be investigated.

“Many women experience severe symptoms, but we also need to talk about the fact that up to 45% of endometriosis will present with no symptoms at all,” she said.

Senior Monash IVF Specialist, Dr Kee Ong confirmed many women are suffering without their knowledge and no idea their fertility is at risk.

“Endometriosis is one of the most prevalent diseases yet massively undiagnosed and is one of the most common causes of infertility,” he said.

“Awareness and understanding are lacking across the spectrum from patients to doctors.”

Dr Kee Ong. PHOTO: Supplied

Shockingly, it can take between 7 to 10 years for a patient to be diagnosed with the condition.

Dr Ong told myGC a pelvic ultrasound does not rule out endometriosis. Instead, an operation called a laparoscopy is the gold standard for diagnosis.

Performing over 500 laparoscopies last year, Dr Ong found the condition in a significant percentage of patients, with many reporting no prior symptoms of pain.

“It really is a silent epidemic which only comes to light for many when they start trying for a baby. We need to get to it sooner,” Dr Ong said.

For 30-year-old Rachel Ross, it was a three-year journey to diagnosis after developing sudden digestion issues, weight loss and pelvic pain.

“I was referred to a Gastroenterologist by my GP who slapped me with the label of IBS. I blindly carried on with these symptoms for a few years knowing something just wasn’t right,” Rachel said.

“When my husband and I started trying for a family, we had no idea of the hard road ahead. After four miscarriages, we demanded further investigation and finally a laparoscopy confirmed endometriosis.”

Rachel Ross. PHOTO: Supplied

Rachel is now undergoing IVF with Dr Kee Ong to achieve her dream.

“My advice to women is to advocate for yourself, ask the questions, ask for that test, ask for that referral. I got there in the end and am now in great hands, but an earlier diagnosis can make all the difference,” she said.

Dr Ong says many patients go through extreme emotional and financial turmoil of repeated IVF cycles with a lessor chance of success due to undiagnosed endometriosis.

“This is one of the most heart-breaking things to see. Early diagnosis is essential and there is hope! Surgery significantly improves the chances of conceiving and we can often avoid the IVF path,” he said.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to that normally found lining the uterus occurs in other parts of the body. Tissue responds to hormones released by the ovaries, which can lead to bleeding, inflammation and scarring.

Some of the more obvious symptoms include pain during sex or periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, lethargy and reduced fertility.

“My hope is that women gain the knowledge to ask the right questions, speak up and play a proactive role in their treatment plans,” he said.

“Listen to your gut, make sure you’re being heard and don’t be afraid of the diagnosis process to get the answers you need.

“Fertility is not a numbers game and unanswered questions add to an extremely stressful situation. Getting to the bottom of the cause of infertility must come first.”

This is a sponsored editorial brought to you by Dr Kee Ong.