Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer at later stages of the disease are more likely to say that their disease has affected several aspects of their life, including their self-esteem, how they share feelings with others, and how they feel about their sexual health, a survey found.
The study enrolled 1,162 U.S. participants from last September to the end of January 2019, and focused on further understanding how prostate cancer and its side effects (long after treatment is completed) can have an enduring impact on quality of life and mental health, particularly for those initially diagnosed with advanced disease.
Overall, the survey showed that patients diagnosed at earlier stages of prostate cancer tended to have markedly different experiences than those first diagnosed at more advanced stages.
Patients first diagnosed at stage 1 or 2 were more likely to say that their disease would not affect their long-term plans. They also were more likely to feel comfortable with seeking support when needed. These patients were also more likely to report no disease symptoms, to feel that current treatment was controlling the disease, and to be handling side effects well.
In contrast, their later-stage counterparts were more likely to have begun treatment or had surgery within a month of diagnosis, have had a recurrence, and have experienced a host of symptoms, including fatigue and frequent urination.
Those diagnosed with more advanced disease were more likely to report feeling less confident overall, and to feeling like a burden when sharing emotions or concerns. They were also more prone to say that people generally do not understand what they are dealing with, and that they more frequently confronted sexual health and intimacy problems, such as erectile dysfunction and reduced libido, as well as communication issues with their partners.
In general, patients diagnosed with more advanced disease were more likely to say the disease made them feel “less than a man.”
”It’s important that we don’t overlook just how different a person’s journey with a specific condition can be based on different factors, in this case the initial diagnosis stage,” Tim Armand, president and co-founder of Health Union, said in a news release.
Other survey results showed that for most patients, top treatment decision factors were efficacy, potential side effects, and recommendations from a friend or family members. They also indicated that the biggest regrets concerning treatment included side effects, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, impact on sex life, and having chosen radiation.
The vast majority of respondents said they had accepted the diagnosis, but had not lost hope.
“The findings of Prostate Cancer in America 2019 show just how important it is to understand the many aspects of quality of life and how they affect the patient journey,” Armand said.
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