Westmead physiotherapy program gives new life to prostate cancer patients

Westmead Hospital's physiotherapy team Christian Segaram, Katherine Maka, Gerard Regan and Maria Quinlivan.
Westmead Hospital’s physiotherapy team Christian Segaram, Katherine Maka, Gerard Regan and Maria Quinlivan.

An innovative physiotherapy program at Westmead Hospital is helping men recover from prostate cancer surgery faster, vastly improving their quality of life.

Prostate cancer was the most common cancer diagnosed across Western Sydney Local Health District in the past five years, making up 20 per cent of all cancer diagnoses.

Under the program, Westmead Hospital’s physiotherapy team offers pelvic floor muscle training to all patients undergoing a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland) to help improve their urinary continence.

Since the program’s introduction last year, 76 per cent of radical prostatectomy patients have participated.

Westmead Hospital physiotherapist Gerard Regan said many patients had returned to urinary continence much more quickly, improving their physical and mental health.

“Urinary continence is a sensitive topic, particularly for men,” he said.

“We wanted to implement a program that gave men back their confidence after surgery; it allows them to have control over their recovery and gives a better outcome long-term.”

Radical prostatectomy is the most common treatment – and Mr Regan expected the number of affected patients to increase.

“That’s why this program is so important,” he said.

“As men get older and surgeries increase, so will the resulting incontinence. By helping patients immediately after surgery, we’re hoping to improve their continence long-term, lowering the cost associated with incontinence and the need for future hospital stints.”

The physiotherapy team worked in collaboration with urologists and nursing staff to implement the program, receiving support from clinicians who could see the benefit of targeted physiotherapy.

The team is now keen to extend the program to help men with chronic incontinence and other types of pelvic surgery.

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