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Prostate Cancer

Study Reveals Quality of Life Concerns Paramount in Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

For many men newly diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, concerns about potential quality-of-life issues often guide treatment decisions. A new study led by UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers identifies distinct patterns of side effects that patients could use to guide their choices.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study examines quality-of-life outcomes for the treatment choices most patients will face. Those choices include active surveillance, radical prostatectomy, external beam radiation treatment, and brachytherapy, a treatment that involves inserting radioactive seeds into the prostate. “Patients diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer — and that’s the vast majority of patients with this disease — face many treatment options that are thought to be similarly efficacious,” said Ronald C. Chen, MD, MPH, UNC Lineberger member and associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. “Therefore, the quality-of-life differences among these options become an important consideration when patients are trying to make their decisions.”

The study is needed as prostate cancer treatment technologies have advanced, and as active surveillance has emerged as an important strategy for sparing low-risk prostate cancer patients unnecessary side effects. Active surveillance involves regular testing to check for cancer growth rather than immediate treatment, and many patients with low-risk prostate cancer on active surveillance may be able to avoid treatment for several years or altogether. The American Society of Clinical Oncology has endorsed active surveillance for most men with low-risk prostate cancer.

“There has not been a large-scale comparison of the quality-of-life impact for these modern options, until now,” Chen said. “Existing quality of life studies have studied older types of surgery and radiation that are no longer used, and patients need updated information regarding the impact of modern treatment options so they can make informed decisions about the choices they face today.”

For the study, UNC Lineberger researchers surveyed 1,141 men who were diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer between January 2011 and June 2013. They compared patients’ self-reported quality of life related to bowel, urination, and sexual function across four strategies: active surveillance; prostatectomy; external beam radiotherapy; and brachytherapy. Almost all prostatectomy patients received robotic surgery, and almost all external beam radiotherapy patients received intensity-modulated radiation, reflecting modern treatment technologies.

Prostatectomy was linked to higher sexual dysfunction and urinary leakage than the other options. At two years after treatment, more than 57 percent of men who had normal sexual function prior to treatment reported poor sexual function after surgery, compared with 27 percent who reported poor sexual function after external beam radiation, 34 percent after brachytherapy, and 25 percent after active surveillance. “With modern robotic surgery, sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence continue to be some of the side effects that surgery can cause,” Chen said. “While we do see improvement over time, even at the two-year point, surgery still causes more of these issues than other treatments.”

Meanwhile, other treatment choices were linked to worse scores for other side effects. External beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy caused more short-term urinary tract obstruction and irritation, while external beam radiotherapy was linked to more short-term bowel symptoms.

For the group of men who chose active surveillance, urinary issues and sexual function worsened over time. This is likely partly due to aging, and partly due to some men who experienced cancer progression that necessitated treatments that caused these side effects.

“At the two-year time point, patients who chose radiotherapy or brachytherapy actually had quality-of-life results similar to patient who chose active surveillance, and that may be surprising to some patients,” Chen said. “With advances in treatment technologies for both surgery and radiation, patients and physicians today must base their decisions on the quality-of-life results of modern treatments, not on results for outdated treatment modalities that caused much more side effects historically.” Overall, Chen said the data can help patients weigh their treatment options based on their own baseline health and on their priorities.

“With all of the modern treatment options, patients should have accurate and realistic expectations about the frequency of side effects from treatment,” Chen said. “We found that the different treatment options have trade-offs in side effects. Each patient can look at these data to see what they care about most.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of North Carolina Health Care System. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ronald C. Chen et al. Association Between Choice of Radical Prostatectomy, External Beam Radiotherapy, Brachytherapy, or Active Surveillance and Patient-Reported Quality of Life Among Men With Localized Prostate Cancer. JAMA, March 2017 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.1652

See this article on ScienceDaily: 21 March 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170321124231.htm.
By | March 27th, 2017|Dr. Michael Lazar, News|0 Comments

Prostate Cancer News: Emotional distress may lead to more aggressive treatment

The anxiety many men experience after being diagnosed with prostate cancer may lead them to choose potentially unnecessary treatment options, researchers from the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute report in a new study.

“Emotional distress may motivate men with low-risk prostate cancer to choose more aggressive treatment, such as choosing surgery over active surveillance,” said UB’s Heather Orom, the lead author on the study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Urology.

“It underscores what we have been pushing a long time for, which is, ‘Let’s make this decision as informed and supported as possible.’ If distress early on is influencing treatment choice, then maybe we help men by providing clearer information about prognosis and strategies for dealing with anxiety. We hope this will help improve the treatment decision making process and ultimately, the patient’s quality of life,” added Orom, PhD, associate professor of community health and health behavior in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.

The study involved 1,531 men with newly diagnosed, clinically localized prostate cancer, meaning the disease hadn’t spread to other parts of the body.

Researchers measured participants’ emotional distress with the Distress Thermometer, an 11-point scale ranging from 0 (no distress) to 10 (extreme distress). The men were assessed after diagnosis and again as soon as they had made their treatment decision.

The majority of study participants had either low- or intermediate-risk disease, and were more likely to have been treated with surgery, followed by radiation and active surveillance.

“Men’s level of emotional distress shortly after diagnosis predicted greater likelihood of choosing surgery over active surveillance,” the researchers report. “Importantly, this was true among men with low-risk disease, for whom active surveillance may be a clinically viable option and side effects of surgery might be avoided.”

While prostate cancer is a major disease in the U.S., it is not a death sentence, according to the American Cancer Society, which estimates there are nearly 3 million prostate cancer survivors alive today.

However, overtreatment is a concern, and surgery and radiation therapy have side effects that include erectile dysfunction and incontinence, which, for the majority of men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, can be avoided by instead choosing active surveillance to monitor the cancer and considering treatment if the disease progresses.

“There’s an interest in driving the decision-making experience to prevent overtreatment and ensure that men have full information about all the side effects so they can make a choice that’s preference and value driven,” Orom said. “We don’t want men to make a decision that they’ll regret later on.”

“The goal of most physicians treating men with prostate cancer is to help their patients and family members through a difficult process and help their patients receive appropriate treatment,” said Willie Underwood III, MD, MS, MPH, an associate professor in Roswell Park’s Department of Urology, and a paper co-author.

“To do so, it is helpful for physicians to better understand what is motivating men’s decisions and to address negative motivators such as emotional distress to prevent men from receiving a treatment that they don’t need or will later regret,” Underwood added.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University at Buffalo. Original written by David J. Hill. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Heather Orom, Willie Underwood, Caitlin Biddle. Emotional Distress Increases the Likelihood of Undergoing Surgery among Men with Localized Prostate Cancer. The Journal of Urology, 2017; 197 (2): 350 DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2016.08.007

Read this article on ScienceDaily: University at Buffalo. “For men with prostate cancer, emotional distress may lead to more aggressive treatment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170111103920.htm.
By | February 14th, 2017|Dr. Michael Lazar, News, Prostate Cancer|0 Comments

Obesity and a high-fat diet promote prostate cancer progression

Metabolites from a fatty diet join forces with the cancer-driving gene MYC to reprogram prostate cancer cells to grow faster, finds new study. This discovery solidifies a direct link between obesity and lethal prostate cancer.

your-questions-answeredAt the 2016 Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference, Giorgia Zadra, PhD, of the Harvard: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, presented results from a study that helped to clarify the relationship between obesity and prostate cancer.

The skinny? Fat increases the activity of a critical cancer-driving gene called MYC.

Cancer is a greedy disease. Tumors plunder the body’s resources – vitamins and nutrients, energy and oxygen, and vital space as tumors grow to ultimately cause lethal damage. Worst of all, cancer steals precious time away from patients and their loved ones.

It follows then, that having a high-fat diet may be like pouring fuel on the fire, by providing cancer cells with even more of the resources they need. In fact, a number of recent population studies have linked obesity and a high-fat diet with an increased risk for advanced, lethal prostate cancer, especially among African-American men. Unfortunately, the exact biological reasons behind this phenomenon have remained elusive.

Investigating this important question required the intersection of four distinct fields of study: dietary metabolism, “epigenetics” (a mechanism of gene regulation), the biology of cancer-causing genes, and public health sciences.

To develop a comprehensive understanding of how obesity and a high-fat diet promote prostate cancer progression, Zadra, who studies cancer cell metabolism, teamed up with Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) Young Investigator David P. Labbé, PhD, of the Harvard: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who studies the regulation of gene expression in healthy and malignant cells by epigenetics.  Read the full story …

HIFU with the Sonablate® 500 has many proven advantages over traditional treatment modalities for prostate disease. For more information about HIFU treatment or to make an appointment call: (707) 546-5553.

By | July 5th, 2016|Dr. Michael Lazar, News, Prostate Cancer|0 Comments