Sexual function concerns not always reflected in prostate cancer treatment choices

October 25, 2017, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

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 , more than half, or 52.6 percent, indicated that preserving 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 ," 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 and that active surveillance is a safe option."

Explore further: New insights into side effects can help prostate cancer patients choose treatments

Related Stories

New insights into side effects can help prostate cancer patients choose treatments

March 21, 2017
For many men newly diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, concerns about potential quality-of-life issues often guide treatment decisions. A new study led by UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers identifies ...

Active surveillance preserves quality of life for prostate cancer patients

March 21, 2017
Faced with the negative quality-of-life effects from surgery and radiation treatments for prostate cancer, low risk patients may instead want to consider active surveillance with their physician, according to a study released ...

Are men with a family history of prostate cancer eligible for active surveillance?

April 6, 2017
Active surveillance—careful monitoring to determine if or when a cancer warrants treatment—is an increasingly prevalent choice for prostate cancer, but it's unclear if the strategy is appropriate for men with a family ...

Low-risk prostate cancer best managed with active surveillance, according to new recommendations

February 18, 2016
For most men with low-risk prostate cancer, the recommended strategy is active surveillance with regular testing to check for cancer growth rather than immediate treatment, according to guidelines from the American Society ...

Active surveillance for prostate cancer can give men good quality of life

March 14, 2016
Choosing ongoing monitoring instead of immediate curative treatment (surgery or radiotherapy) leads to a better overall quality of life for men with low-risk prostate cancer. In fact, the Quality of life (QoL) is about the ...

Black, white men view impacts of prostate cancer treatment differently, study finds

June 5, 2017
When it comes to making decisions about which prostate cancer treatment to choose, black and white men prioritize certain treatment-related factors differently, according to a University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests well-known growth suppressor actually fuels lethal brain cancers

June 18, 2018
Scientists report finding a potentially promising treatment target for aggressive and deadly high-grade brain cancers like glioblastoma. But they also say the current lack of a drug that hits the molecular target keeps it ...

Targeting the engine room of the cancer cell

June 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) have developed a highly innovative computational framework that can support personalized cancer treatment by matching individual tumors with the drugs or drug ...

Genomics offers new treatment options for infants with range of soft tissue tumors

June 18, 2018
The genetic causes of a group of related infant cancers have been discovered by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Wuerzburg and their collaborators. Whole genome sequencing of tumours revealed ...

Researchers create novel combination as potential therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma

June 18, 2018
Researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Virginia, have identified a promising target to reverse the development of high-risk neuroblastoma and potentially inform the creation of novel combination therapies for ...

Standard myelofibrosis drug can awaken 'dormant' lymphoma

June 18, 2018
Most patients with myelofibrosis, a rare chronic disorder of the haematopoietic cells of the bone marrow, benefit from drugs from the JAK2 inhibitor class: symptoms are relieved, survival extended and general quality-of-life ...

Breast cancer researcher warns against online genetic tests

June 18, 2018
We have never been so fascinated by the secrets inside our cells.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.