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Anxiety May Influence Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions, Researchers Say

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer may let their emotions rule their treatment decisions. That’s the finding of a recent study that looked into a potential link between anxiety and the path men choose for addressing prostate cancer.

The study in question involved more than 1,500 men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer. The majority of study subjects had low-risk cancer, but a few also presented with intermediate to high risk cases. Researchers followed the men through their decision-making process to determine what role, if any, anxiety played in their final selection. The idea behind the study was to see if a person’s stress level would serve as a predictor for treatment choices.

Researchers ultimately found there was a connection between stress and treatment choice. Men who were especially distressed about their diagnosis were much more likely to choose aggressive surgery over active surveillance. Those with higher risk were also more likely to opt for surgery over other interventions, such as radiation therapy.

The study’s findings are especially important, researchers say, because some men who may be especially good candidates for active surveillance are opting for more invasive treatments. This, in turn, may enhance their risks for side effects, such as incontinence and impotence.

Men who are diagnosed with lower risk prostate cancer may find that active surveillance is a viable option for them. This “treatment” involves no actual intervention, surgical or otherwise. Instead, men are closely monitored to make certain their cancer isn’t developing at an unsatisfactory pace. While immediate action is often required in aggressive prostate cancers and other forms of cancer, low-risk cases of prostate cancer tend to be very slow growing. It is due to that slow growing nature that surveillance may be a viable course of action in some cases.

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are strongly urged to take a deep breath and gather all the facts about their case. Doctors are often more than happy to go over all treatment options that are recommended and their potential risks and benefits. While cancer is a scary topic to address, choosing a treatment course based on emotions may cause a man to face more aggressive interventions than are strictly necessary.