Watchful waiting also known as active surveillance for prostate cancer progression won't make men with slow-growing prostate cancer more distressed or anxious, especially if they are in a good and healthy condition.
With active surveillance, patients with early low-risk prostate tumors are regularly monitored and are only treated if the disease progresses. Watchful waiting aims to avoid or delay the side effects of radical treatment, such as radiation or surgery. But still, concerns have been raised that no active treatment could cause anxiety and distress on the part of the patients.
Dr. Roderick C. N. van den Bergh of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and colleagues lead the investigation by looking at 129 men with slow-growing prostate cancers who chose for active surveillance rather than any other treatment.
At about two months after their diagnosis, and again after nine months, the men under observation went a series of battery tests which measures their anxiety levels, depressive symptoms, fears of cancer progression and other psychological factors.
Just two from the 129 men stopped active surveillance for non-medical reasons during the scope of the study.
Men who posses neurotic personalities - those who showed excessive worry and anxiety about normal life events - were more likely to be anxious, as were those who felt that their physicians play an important role in how their prostate cancer would be treated. Those in good physical condition and older men were less anxious and distressed.
Dr. Jeremy Couper of the Peter Mac Callum Cancer Center in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, said in his own study of the psychological effects of prostate cancer treatments, men who chose harmone therapy had the worse mental health and quality of life compared to those who chose other options.
These new findings are another piece in the jigsaw puzzle as we learn what best advise should we give to those patients with potentially curable prostate cancer, Couper said.