Study: Men are overly optimistic about RP recovery

August 25, 2011

Nearly half of men undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer expect better recovery from the side effects of the surgery than they actually attain 1 year after the operation, recent study findings indicate.

Nearly half of men undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer expect better recovery from the side effects of the surgery than they actually attain 1 year after the operation, recent study findings indicate.

In addition, prior to surgery, a small proportion of men had expected to have better urinary continence and sexual function a year after the surgery than they had before it.

"This is a belief that does not reflect preoperative counseling which, on the contrary, alerts men to urinary and sexual problems after surgery," said first author Daniela Wittmann, MSW, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The study, published in the Journal of Urology (2011; 186:494-9), surveyed 152 men undergoing radical prostatectomy. All of the men filled out questionnaires before surgery, after receiving preoperative counseling.

The study showed that for the most part, men’s expectations of hormonal and bowel function matched what happened 1 year after surgery. But when it came to urinary incontinence, only 36% of the men’s expectations corresponded to what happened 1 year post-surgery. In addition, only 40% of men found what they expected in terms of sexual function to be true 1 year post-surgery.

Also, 46% of the men found worse than expected outcomes in urinary incontinence, and 44% of men found worse than expected outcomes in sexual function 1 year after surgery.

"When we provide preoperative education, we can only inform men in terms of overall statistics. We can’t predict for the individual," Wittmann said. "This may mean that, if in doubt, people tend toward being hopeful and optimistic, perhaps overly optimistic."