For GPs

X Marking The Spot For Prostate Cancer Patients

16 Jul 2018

It may not turn them into superheroes but a vital initiative is offering a host of benefits to prostate cancer patients.

The X-Men program, run by Westmead Hospital in western Sydney, offers valuable exercise for patients undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to help with the possible effects of their treatment.

It also provides participants with social opportunities, aims to motivate them to work out more and provides other long-term health benefits.

Physiotherapist Gerard Regan, who oversees the program, said the scheme was a terrific boost for those involved.

“The men were telling us they found attending a commercial gym intimidating,” Gerard said.  “We’ve found that once they started coming (here), they have really enjoyed it.

“For me, I find it motivating to help the men improve the quality of their lives.

“I heard a saying once about rehabilitation for men with prostate cancer, we’re trying to add life to years, as well as years to life. That’s what this is about.”

The scheme, which is open to men of all ages, runs over eight weeks and takes place at the hospital’s physiotherapy gym.

As well as cardiovascular exercise, the one-hour sessions feature squats, step-ups and other techniques aimed at improving and strengthening limbs.

“There is a risk of muscle weakness and increased falls among men having ADT treatment,” Gerard said. “It’s important therefore to ensure they are fit and have strong muscles.

“With about one in seven men now being diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85, it underlines the need for programs like this.

“Everyone seems to really enjoy working out in this setting with other patients. They are also positive about talking with each other at the end of the classes.”

Staff at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital have been assisting the X-men program. Image courtesy
WSLHD Corporate Communications.

Exercise can help manage some effects of ADT, which is used to treat prostate cancer by reducing testosterone levels.

Although it initially involved classes running over eight weeks, the team has now introduced a ‘transitional’ program which includes eight extra weekly exercise sessions. It is hoped this will encourage those attending to make regular exercise a part of their life.

“The idea is that men taking part will become more autonomous and feel comfortable exercising independently,” Gerard said.

“We’ve had good, positive feedback.  Our satisfaction surveys have shown more than 90 per cent of participants said they were happy with the program.

“The men have said they are more motivated and have more self-confidence. It’s also helped with other physical issues like long-standing knee pain.

“It’s terrific to see them benefiting from a program like this.”

For more information about the X-Men program, contact Westmead Hospital’s physiotherapy department on 8890 6500.

Click here to read more about the X-Men program.

For more information about prostate cancer and how radiation therapy, click here.