Intervention for Prostate Cancer Patients

The side effects of prostate cancer treatment can cause depression and emotional distress in men. A new study outlines intervention therapies for helping men deal with these adverse side effects.

Researchers in North Carolina studied more than 200 men immediately after surgical treatment or in the first three weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. Trained nurses delivered eight weekly phone calls to provide psychoeducational intervention for the patients, to offer information on how to manage uncertainty about the disease and to improve symptom control of side effects.

Treatment for prostate cancer can be life altering. Patients must undergo surgery or radiation therapy, and the side effects include urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction and impotence. All are associated with significant emotional distress and changes in lifestyle and relationships. However, despite the nature of the treatment and subsequent symptoms, psychoeducational intervention for men is rare.

The results of the current study show the interventional phone calls were most effective in the first four months after treatment when side effects are most intense. The patients who received phone calls reported improvements in managing their uncertainty and most also showed significant improvement of their incontinence after four months.

Merle H. Mishel, Ph.D, R.N., from university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests further studies are needed to confirm the results of this initial trial. He writes, “Because this is one of the first tests of a psychoeducational intervention among patients with prostate carcinoma and was the first test that included a sufficient number of African-American men to test by ethnic group, replication of these preliminary findings with similarly diverse samples is strongly encouraged.”

SOURCE: Cancer, 2002

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