Sexual function concerns not always reflected in prostate cancer treatment choices

October 25, 2017

CHAPEL HILL -- Preserving sexual function was important to many men facing treatment for prostate cancer, according to a recent study by University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers. However, this preference was not strongly reflected in the treatment choices of men with low-risk prostate cancer.

In a survey of nearly 1,200 men in North Carolina who have prostate cancer, more than half, or 52.6 percent, indicated that preserving sexual function was "very important" to them. For men with low-risk prostate cancer, researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that preference for preserving sexual function was not strongly linked to the choice of a strategy that researchers say is the best option for preserving sexual function.

"Unfortunately, we found that men who had low-risk prostate cancer and wanted to preserve sexual function did not necessarily choose active surveillance," said UNC Lineberger's Ronald C. Chen, an associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. "This indicates that many patients may not have known about active surveillance as an option."

Men with low-risk prostate cancer have multiple treatment options, including surgery, multiple forms of radiation treatment and active surveillance. Treatment options can have side effect risks, including sexual dysfunction. Chen said that active surveillance, which is strategy in which men undergo regular testing rather than immediate treatment, is widely recognized as the best strategy to preserve sexual function for men with low-risk prostate cancer.

Researchers found in their survey that of the 568 men identified as having with low-risk prostate cancer, 43.4 percent received active surveillance. However, they didn't find that those men with low-risk prostate cancer who had a strong preference for preserving sexual function chose active surveillance more frequently than those who cared less about preserving sexual function.

Chen said the results demonstrate that there is a disconnect between what patients prefer, and the treatment they are getting.

"The takeaway for prostate cancer patients is that they should always ask two important questions," Chen said. "One, how aggressive is my cancer? Two, what are my options? After understanding this, it is important they communicate with their doctor what their priorities are in making a decision among the available options."

He said it's also important for physicians to counsel patients to reflect their preferences.

"Active surveillance is widely recognized to be an excellent option for patients diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, because it is the best option to preserve the patient's quality of life including sexual function," he said. "Some patients with prostate cancer may initially want aggressive treatment, and it is important for the physician (urologist and radiation oncologist) to fully counsel patients about the slow-growing nature of low-risk prostate cancer and that active surveillance is a safe option."
-end-
In addition to Chen, other authors include James R. Broughman, Ramsankar Basak, Matthew E. Nielsen, Bryce B. Reeve, Deborah S. Usinger, Kiayni C. Spearman, and Paul A. Godley.

This study was funded by a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute contract and a contract from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to Chen.

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Related Prostate Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Low risk of cancer spread on active surveillance for early prostate cancer
Men undergoing active surveillance for prostate cancer have very low rates - one percent or less - of cancer spread (metastases) or death from prostate cancer, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Urology®, an Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA).

ESMO 2020: Breast cancer drug set to transform prostate cancer treatment
A drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancer can extend the lives of some men with prostate cancer and should become a new standard treatment for the disease, concludes a major trial which is set to change clinical practice.

Major trial shows breast cancer drug can hit prostate cancer Achilles heel
A drug already licensed for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers is more effective than targeted hormone therapy at keeping cancer in check in some men with advanced prostate cancer, a major clinical trial reports.

The Lancet: Prostate cancer study finds molecular imaging could transform management of patients with aggressive cancer
Results from a randomised controlled trial involving 300 prostate cancer patients find that a molecular imaging technique is more accurate than conventional medical imaging and recommends the scans be introduced into routine clinical practice.

Common genetic defect in prostate cancer inspires path to new anti-cancer drugs
Researchers found that, in prostate cancer, a mutation leading to the loss of one allele of a tumor suppressor gene known as PPP2R2A is enough to worsen a tumor caused by other mutations.

First prostate cancer therapy to target genes delays cancer progression
For the first time, prostate cancer has been treated based on the genetic makeup of the cancer, resulting in delayed disease progression, delayed time to pain progression, and potentially extending lives in patients with advanced, metastatic prostate cancer, reports a large phase 3 trial.

Men taking medications for enlarged prostate face delays in prostate cancer diagnosis
University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that men treated with medications for benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) experienced a two-year delay in diagnosis of their prostate cancer and were twice as likely to have advanced disease upon diagnosis.

CNIO researchers confirm links between aggressive prostate cancer and hereditary breast cancer
The study has potential implications for families with members suffering from these types of tumours who are at an increased risk of developing cancer.

Distinguishing fatal prostate cancer from 'manageable' cancer now possible
Scientists at the University of York have found a way of distinguishing between fatal prostate cancer and manageable cancer, which could reduce unnecessary surgeries and radiotherapy.

Researchers find prostate cancer drug byproduct can fuel cancer cells
A genetic anomaly in certain men with prostate cancer may impact their response to common drugs used to treat the disease, according to new research at Cleveland Clinic.

Read More: Prostate Cancer News and Prostate Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.