“Prostate Cancer in America” surveyed prostate cancer patients and caregivers in support of the launch of ProstateCancer.net, a new platform to educate and connect people touched by this debilitating disease.
A total of 953 people in the U.S. completed the survey between October 2017 and January 2018. Among the 928 men who took the survey, 35 percent had localized or early-stage prostate cancer; 31 percent had their disease spread minimally out of the prostate gland; and 33 percent had a disease that was advanced or had spread to other organs.
Sexual dysfunction was identified as the symptom most affecting the daily lives of survey respondents. A total of 64 percent said they were not at all happy with their sex lives, and associated sexual and relationship issues with no longer “feeling like a man” or their partner leaving.
Nearly 25 percent of participants who experienced symptoms like erectile dysfunction said it affected their daily experiences more than other symptoms, such as fatigue (20 percent) or overactive bladder (19 percent).
In terms of emotional well-being, 62 percent of patients felt at least a little sad and 68 percent were at least a bit worried their condition could worsen. Nearly one in 10 patients said they had been diagnosed with anxiety or panic disorders (9 percent) or a mood disorder (8 percent), such as depression.
Nearly 40 percent of prostate cancer patients were in remission at the time of the survey. They said the emotional impact often continues beyond treatment. As with other cancers, the trauma of diagnosis and treatment can sometimes outweigh the feelings of completion from successful treatments, and patients frequently say the fear of cancer returning never truly goes away.
Although 75 percent of patients were satisfied with the care they received, they wished for access to better resources, mental health support, and treatment from their healthcare providers.
About 61 percent of the men surveyed said they were not symptomatic at diagnosis, meaning they visited their healthcare provider for another medical reason rather than suspecting prostate cancer. Understandably, many said they were shocked and unprepared for test results confirming a potential problem with their prostate.
“The impact of prostate cancer on mental and emotional health is a powerful underlying theme throughout much of our Prostate Cancer in America survey results,” Olivier Chateau, co-founder and chief executive officer of Health Union, said in a press release. “ProstateCancer.net meets an important need for people living with this condition, providing a unique opportunity to learn, share experiences, and connect with others about all aspects of life with prostate cancer.”