PHILADELPHIA (November 6, 2019) – Men who had higher income and health literacy levels had more confidence re-entering normal life following treatment for prostate cancer, researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center found. They also had more positive interactions with medical providers and fewer practical concerns about daily life.
“Men with prostate cancer have had surgery or radiation or both,” said Erin K. Tagai, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral fellow at Fox Chase. “These treatments have quality of life side effects. We are trying to help with preventing depression, coping with fear of recurrence, and managing side effects and symptoms.”
Tagai presented her team’s results today at the American Public Health Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo. She did her work under the mentorship of Suzanne M. Miller, PhD, director of Patient Empowerment and Decision Making at Fox Chase.
“It’s so important to target this group of male patients because it’s an underserved group,” said Miller. “It’s the most common male cancer, yet nothing is being done to manage its effects on men post-treatment.”
The researchers sought to identify predictors of concerns in men in their first year after prostate cancer treatment. They used data from a web-based support system from a larger National Cancer Institute-funded five-year study of 431 men with prostate cancer. They analyzed self-efficacy for re-entry to life as a cancer survivor, interactions with medical providers, and practical concerns.
Self-efficacy for re-entry is the “confidence for managing different things in the first year of survivorship,” such as pain, fatigue, stress, fears, and relationships, said Tagai. Medical interactions are defined as patient perceptions of their communication with physicians, including difficulty asking their physicians questions and receiving medical explanations. Practical concerns included worries about health insurance, family, and job responsibilities, as well as participation in social activities.
Patients with depression had lower self-efficacy for re-entry, more negative interactions with physicians, and more practical concerns. Non-Hispanic black patients had lower self-efficacy after prostate cancer treatment compared to non-Hispanic white patients.
Following prostate cancer treatment, patients should discuss any concerns they have, including managing symptoms, side effects of treatment, or the practical aspects of their daily life, with their physician, Tagai said.