Men who use the Internet as their primary source for prostate cancer treatment decision-making are more likely to regret those decisions a year after treatment than those whose primary sources of information are radiation oncologists or urologists.
That finding is based on a new study of men with favorable-risk prostate cancer who were treated with radiation therapy. The results were presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, FL.
Lead author Narek Shaverdian, MD, told Urology Times the findings suggest radiation oncologists, urologists, and other providers should be proactive about counseling these patients to help ensure they base their decisions on reliable information.
“We know that prostate cancer patients have a difficult task of choosing the treatment, especially patients that have favorable-risk [disease]. Even in radiation, there are multiple options. We also know that patients have multiple sources that they get information from: physicians, family members, friends, and the Internet,” said Dr. Shaverdian, resident physician in radiation oncology at UCLA, who worked on the study with Christopher R. King, MD, PhD, and colleagues.
“Since these patients with favorable-risk prostate cancer are known to live a long time, looking at how patients get information that influences their decisions is important. That’s especially since the toxicities of treatments are real, and these patients live with the toxicities.”
Previous research has shown that while physicians are an important source of information for their patients, a majority of oncology patients turn to the Internet—websites, online publications, blogs, and forums—for health information, according to Dr. Shaverdian.
This study reflects responses from 276 men treated with radiation, who were surveyed about which source was most important in their decision making. The source options: radiation oncologist, urologist, family members, other patients, the Internet, and other.
“We wanted to see if we could link that source to patients’ quality of life after treatment,” he said. “Regret is a validated outcome in prostate cancer that has been well studied. It has been associated with post-treatment quality of life and well-being.”
Men in the study were eligible for active surveillance and were at least a year out from stereotactic body radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or high dose-rate brachytherapy. None of the patients had received androgen deprivation therapy.