There’s a troubling disconnect between low-risk prostate cancer patients’ desire to preserve sexual function and the treatment choices they and their doctors often make, according to a study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Oct. 16, 2017).
“Prostate cancer is a unique disease where the vast majority of patients have multiple options to choose from. In addition, patients with low-risk prostate cancer can pursue active surveillance,” said senior author Ronald C. Chen, MD MPH, of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill.
While positive, the existence of multiple treatment options also is challenging to urologists counseling patients.
“Because the different options have different impacts on patients’ quality of life, it is important for the urologist to ask patients about their preferences and priorities, then specifically discuss how available options affect these priorities for the patient. For example, if a low-risk prostate cancer patient expresses a strong preference to preserve his sexual function, then the urologist has the opportunity to counsel the patient that active surveillance may be the best option,” Dr. Chen said.
According to the study’s results, that quality-of-life conversation might not be happening as much as needed.
Dr. Chen and colleagues studied 1,194 men with localized prostate cancer, who had reported at baseline (before treatment) on sexual function and responded to whether preserving sexual function was very, somewhat, or not important. Among those studied, 568 men had low-risk prostate cancer.