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Emotional distress increases the likelihood of undergoing surgery among men with localized prostate cancer

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Published:1st Feb 2017
Author: Orom H, Underwood W, Biddle C.
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Ref.:J Urol. 2017 Feb;197(2):350-355.

Purpose: We determined whether among men with clinically localized prostate cancer, particularly men with low risk disease, greater emotional distress increases the likelihood of undergoing surgery vs radiation or active surveillance.

Materials and Methods Participants were 1,531 patients recruited from 2 academic and 3 community facilities (nonHispanic white 83%, nonHispanic black 11% and Hispanic 6%; low risk 36%, intermediate risk 49% and high risk 15%; choice of active surveillance 24%, radiation 27% and surgery 48%). Emotional distress was assessed shortly after diagnosis and after men made a treatment decision with the Distress Thermometer. We used multinomial logistic regression with robust standard errors to test if emotional distress at either point predicted treatment choice in the sample as a whole and after stratifying by D'Amico risk score.

Results: In the sample as a whole the participants who were more emotionally distressed at diagnosis were more likely to choose surgery over active surveillance (RRR 1.07; 95% CI 1.01, 1.14; p=0.02). Men who were more distressed close to the time they made a treatment choice were more likely to have chosen surgery over active surveillance (RRR 1.16; 95% CI 1.09, 1.24; p <0.001) or surgery over radiation (RRR 1.12; 95% CI 1.05, 1.19; p=0.001). This pattern was also found in men with low risk disease.

Conclusions: Emotional distress may motivate men with low risk prostate cancer to choose more aggressive treatment. Addressing emotional distress before and during treatment decision making may reduce a barrier to the uptake of active surveillance.

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