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Prostate Cancer Treatments Impact Quality of Life

Study compares prostatectomy, brachytherapy and external-beam radiotherapy

WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- A study exploring quality of life of prostate cancer survivors sheds light on how treatment-specific complications impact patients' and their spouses' satisfaction with treatment outcomes, according to an article published in the March 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Martin G. Sanda, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues evaluated health-related quality of life and satisfaction with treatment reported by 1,201 patients and 625 spouses before and after radical prostatectomy, brachytherapy or external-beam radiotherapy treatments for prostate cancer.

The researchers found that each prostate cancer treatment was associated with a distinct pattern of changes affecting urinary, sexual, bowel and hormonal function that impacted patient quality of life. Among patients treated with brachytherapy or radiotherapy, adjuvant hormone use was associated with worse quality of life across multiple domains. Patients treated with prostatectomy who had nerve-sparing procedures exhibited better recovery of sexual quality of life compared to those without nerve-sparing procedures, they report.

"Our study showed that the level of spousal distress arising from a patient's sexual and urinary symptoms after primary prostate cancer treatment was also associated with the partner's level of satisfaction with the treatment outcome. These findings confirm those of single-institution studies suggesting that patients' urinary or sexual symptoms are problematic for their partners," the authors conclude.

Several of the study authors report financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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