A recent study tested anxiety levels in men a year after prostate cancer surgery. Even with a terrific outlook, patients still expressed high levels of anxiety.
"Talk to a therapist about any anxiety."
Gregory Broderick, MD, professor of urology and Alexander Parker, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology and urology, at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, led the investigation.
Dr. Parker said, “The 10-year survival for a man undergoing surgery to remove localized prostate cancer is greater than 95 percent.”
“Given that the majority of men who undergo prostatectomy (full or partial prostate removal) for prostate cancer will not die from the disease, we are concerned about what life will be like for these patients decades after diagnosis and treatment.”
For the study, 365 men who had full or partial prostate removal for localized prostate cancer were evaluated for cancer-specific anxiety (CSA) at the time of surgery and at a 1-year follow-up.
Results found that higher anxiety scores were found in younger men and/or non-white patients.
CSA symptoms were associated with low sexual satisfaction and increased depressive symptoms.
Dr. Parker said, “What is interesting from the sexual health standpoint is we observed that anxiety was not linked to poor erectile function per se but was linked to low levels of sexual satisfaction.”
Authors noted that even men with a 100 percent chance of beating prostate cancer completely still reported high levels of CSA.
Dr. Parker said, “Anxiety about cancer diagnosis can lead to increased depressive symptoms and an inability to enjoy life’s activities, including sexual relations.”
Looking forward, authors hope to design CSA counseling specific to prostate cancer to reduce anxiety, depression and improve the quality of life in these individuals.
Contributing expert Nicole Meise, PhD, said, “Many people forget that the implications of cancer diagnosis go far beyond the actual treatment and survival rates.”
“Treatments are often associated with side effects that can lead to stress and anxiety about what life will be like after treatment.”
“Findings from this study seem to imply that when a patient experiences “cancer-specific-anxiety” it can not only affect the quality of their sex life but also put them at risk for depression.”
“Studies like this raise awareness about the emotional and psychological impact a cancer diagnosis can have on someone and further help us identify people who would benefit from additional counseling to manage associated stress and lessen the impact it has on their life.”
This study was published in Early View in July in Psycho-Oncology.
Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the Sexual Medicine Society of North America.
No conflicts of interest were reported.