Cancer-related symptoms predict psychological wellbeing of prostate cancer survivors

Man_prostate cancer

A new paper from the PiCTure (Prostate Cancer Treatment, your experience) study highlights the relationship between cancer-related symptoms and psychological wellbeing among prostate cancer survivors.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in Ireland. Many men with prostate cancer have poor psychological wellbeing, but most of the factors which place a man at risk of poor wellbeing cannot be modified (e.g. age, disease stage). Identifying risk factors for poor wellbeing which can be modified could be very valuable.

The study set out to investigate whether cancer-related symptoms (which are common, but can often be managed with medicines and other interventions) are related to psychological wellbeing in men with prostate cancer. The analysis was conducted within the PiCTure study which is one of the largest studies of prostate cancer survivors in that world. The researchers, from the National Cancer Registry and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, analysed data from more than 3,300 men.

The results, published in Psycho-Oncology, showed that 17% of survivors had depression, 16% had anxiety and 11% had distress. Several cancer-related symptoms were associated with psychological wellbeing. For example, the chance of having depression was higher in men with more urinary symptoms and more symptoms related to using androgen deprivation therapy (a type of treatment for prostate cancer which changes hormone levels). Men with worse cancer-related fatigue and insomnia also had higher risk of depression. Findings for anxiety and distress were similar to those for depression.

The authors conclude that health services should place more emphasis on identifying and supporting survivors with a greater symptom burden; this, together with greater use of medicines and interventions to alleviate symptoms, may help improve psychological wellbeing in men with prostate cancer.

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