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Research Identifies Predictors of Concern in Post-Treatment Prostate Cancer Patients



In a recent study, Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers sought to identify predictors of concern in men who recently underwent treatment for prostate cancer.

“Men with prostate cancer are often treated with surgery, radiation, or both,” said Fox Chase postdoctoral fellow Erin K. Tagai, PhD, MPH. “These treatments have quality-of-life side effects, and it’s important to help patients prevent depression, cope with fear of recurrence, and manage side effects and symptoms.”

Tagai and her team used data from a larger National Cancer Institute-funded five-year study of 431 men with prostate cancer and analyzed self-efficacy for re-entry to life as a cancer survivor, interactions with medical providers, and practical concerns.

According to Tagai, self-efficacy for re-entry is the “confidence for managing different things in the first year of survivorship,” such as pain, fatigue, stress, fear, and relationships. Medical interactions were defined as patient perceptions of their communication with physicians, including difficulty asking their physicians questions and receiving medical explanations. Practical concerns included worries about health insurance, family, and job responsibilities, as well as participation in social activities.

The researchers found that men with higher income and health literacy levels had more confidence re-entering normal life following treatment. They also had more positive interactions with medical providers and fewer practical concerns about daily life.

Patients with depression had lower self-efficacy for re-entry, more negative interactions with physicians, and more practical concerns. Non-Hispanic black patients had lower self-efficacy after prostate cancer treatment compared to non-Hispanic white patients.

According to Tagai, following prostate cancer treatment, patients should discuss any concerns they have (including managing symptoms, side effects of treatment, and the practical aspects of their daily life) with their physician.

Tagai presented her team’s results at the American Public Health Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo. She completed her work under the mentorship of Suzanne M. Miller, PhD, Director of Patient Empowerment and Decision-Making at Fox Chase.

“It’s so important to conduct research on this patient population,” said Miller. “Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer, yet very little is being done to manage its effects on men post-treatment.”