The virtual prostate cancer patient

A new type of “educational” service has been brought to our attention that uses virtual reality (VR) systems allowing a number of opportunities for men to “talk” to a virtual prostate cancer patient about their own risks for prostate cancer and things like the risks and benefits of PSA testing.

This new VR system has been developed by the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in collaboration with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and a health simulation company called Kognito.

Here is the link to the “Talk to Nathan” set of VR programs.

Basically the system can be used to do three things:

  • It allows a man to”talk” to a virtual human (“Nathan”) who has had a prostate cancer “scare” so that the man can start to learn how to ask their own healthcare providers about risk assessment and testing for risk of prostate cancer.
  • It allows a man to “talk” to Nathan about his own prostate cancer and what he had learned over his 10-year journey since diagnosis.
  • It can also be used to help primary care physicians to learn how best to talk to their patients about the risks and benefits of PSA testing for risk of prostate cancer (“screening”).

While we find this type of VR system interesting intellectually, what we would really like is to get feedback from real patients as to what they think about these systems specifically and whether you think Prostate Cancer International shoiuld recommend these systems to men who believe that they may be at risk for prostate cancer and need to get tested for that risk or men who have been recently diagnosed and are just starting to learn about their journey, So …

Please don’t be shy …. Leave any comments you would like to make in the Comment box below!

3 Responses

  1. I think they should continually collect information from patients and evaluate and incorporate worthy material for ‘Nathan’.

  2. I “spoke” to Nathan. He seems to be a fine fellow. Unfortunately, given that the CDC has recently been politicized, my level of trust in the information offered was very low, and when I communicated with Nathan, it was with great skepticism. His advice about the long-term side effects of prostate cancer treatments was not very enlightening: “Life changes but it does go on.”


  3. It’s hard enough supporting real men … now we have to support virtual ones??
    (just commenting so I get notified when you get real feedback!)

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