October 18, 2012
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Cancer-specific anxiety likely increases depressive symptoms

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Higher levels of cancer-specific anxiety were associated with poor sexual function and indicators of depression among men who underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer.

The researchers hypothesized that cancer-specific anxiety would affect quality of life in men who had prostatectomy.

“The 10-year survival for a man undergoing surgery to remove localized prostate cancer is greater than 95%,” Alexander Parker, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and urology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., said in a press release. “Given that the majority of men who undergo prostatectomy for prostate cancer will not die from their disease, we are concerned about what life will be like for these patients decades after diagnosis and treatment.”

The analysis included 356 men who underwent surgery for localized disease. They completed the Memorial Anxiety Scale for Prostate Cancer and Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite at 1-year follow-up.

The highest anxiety scores were reported in younger men (P<.01) and non-Caucasian men (P<.01). Higher scores in the anxiety test also were linked to poor sexual satisfaction/function (P<.01) and increasing depressive symptoms (P<.01).

The results indicated that higher anxiety also was linked to factors associated with aggressive disease, including stage, positive margins and PSA at 1 year (P<.01 for all). However, significant anxiety also occurred in men with clinically indolent prostate cancer.

“If confirmed in additional studies, our data support the future development of models to predict men at high risk of cancer-specific anxiety following prostate cancer surgery, combined with targeted referral for additional counseling and therapy from an experienced clinical psychologist,” the researchers concluded.