Mindfulness-based Approach Doesn’t Reduce Distress in Advanced Prostate Cancer Patients, Study Finds

Mindfulness-based Approach Doesn’t Reduce Distress in Advanced Prostate Cancer Patients, Study Finds

Patients with advanced prostate cancer don’t seem to benefit from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to alleviate the distress associated with their disease and treatment effects, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The Australian study, “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Advanced Prostate Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” shows that MBCT delivered by group teleconference has similar results compared to men who received minimally enhanced usual care.

It is estimated that more than 3.8 million men are still living with prostate cancer five years after their diagnosis.

According to the American Cancer Society, when all stages of prostate cancer are included, the five-year relative survival rate is almost 100 percent; the 10-year relative survival rate is 98 percent; and the 15-year rate is 95 percent.

But, the study said, although most men are diagnosed with localized disease, 40 percent will eventually see their disease progress, and up to 20 percent will become castration-resistant or metastatic at some point during their disease.

Acknowledging that they live with an incurable disease, together with the side effects of both the disease and its treatment, can lead to a severe reduction in quality of life, especially in advanced prostate cancer patients, according to the study, led by Suzanne K. Chambers, Ph.D., from Griffith University in Gold Coast, Australia, and colleagues.

They found that patients often experience psychosocial symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mindfulness-based approaches have proven effective in decreasing psychosocial symptoms in cancer patients, especially in those with breast cancer, suggesting it may also be a promising approach in prostate cancer patients.

Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of MBCT in reducing psychosocial distress in men with advanced prostate cancer. This approach involves getting men more aware of their experience, leading them to become less reactive to difficult experiences, and helping them to better cope with their disease.

The study enrolled 189 patients who were randomly assigned to receive either an eight-week, group-based MBCT intervention delivered by telephone or minimally enhanced usual care — standard care for advanced prostate cancer patients minimally enhanced with patient education materials, such as relaxation information, booklets on coping with cancer, a guide on nutrition for people with cancer, and information on support services in the participant’s home state.

Participants were assessed at the start of the study and at three, six, and nine months after the inititation of treatment.

Results revealed that compared to men receiving minimally enhanced usual care, those who received MBCT showed no significant changes in intervention outcomes or engagement in mindfulness.

However, men in the MBCT group showed an increase over time in their skill of observing, which was not seen in the control group.

“MBCT in this format was not more effective than minimally enhanced usual care in reducing distress in men with advanced PC,” Chambers and her colleagues wrote. “Future intervention research for these men should consider approaches that map more closely to masculinity.”