Prostate Cancer :: Quality of life after treatments for prostate cancer

A rigorous, long-term study of quality of life in patients who underwent one of three common prostate cancer treatments found that each treatment affected men’s lives in different ways.

The study’s findings, published in the June 1 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cancer, provide invaluable information for men with prostate cancer who are facing vital treatment decisions.

UCLA researchers studied quality of life in a group of men who underwent radical prostatectomy, external beam radiation therapy, or implantation of radioactive seeds in the prostate gland. The three treatment options rank about equally in survival outcomes for most men, so specific impacts on quality of life become paramount in making treatment decisions, said lead author Dr. Mark Litwin, a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and a professor of urology and health services.

“The good news is that overall mental and physical well-being were not profoundly affected by any of the three treatment choices,” Litwin said. “That’s good news for men with the sword of prostate cancer hanging over their heads. In general, they’ll be OK no matter which of the three options they choose.”

However, each of the three options did negatively affect quality of life, at least temporarily, with problems ranging from erectile dysfunction and minor incontinence to urinary and bowel irritation.

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and the leading cause of cancer death in men. About 218,890 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year alone, according to the American Cancer Society. About 27,050 men will die.

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