Study patients were given comprehensive questionnaires to fill out before treatment to assess generic and prostate cancer-specific, health-related quality of life. Questionnaires were filled out again at one, two, four, eight, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42 and 48 months after treatment to "capture maximal fluctuations in functional convalescence," the study state.
The most rapid change in the slope of patient recovery came very early after treatment, Gore said, either for better or worse. However, once more than two years had passed, the patient's recovery or decline had stabilized.
The study patients were diagnosed with the most common type of prostate cancer, low-risk, clinically localized disease. Many of the patients were older men and already were experiencing age-related functional issues such as erectile dysfunction, so each had individual baseline goals to achieve.
The study will allow oncologists to look at the patient, look at the characteristics of their cancer and determine what treatment will mostly likely help them to achieve their baseline health-related quality of life. For example, a patient with an existing irritable bladder condition should probably not receive external beam radiation because the treatment could exacerbate the underlying condition. A patient's acceptance of potential side effects also should be considered.
"Different men are bothered by different things, so it depends on what their baseline function is," Litwin said. "If a man is already impotent, for example, loss of sexual function won't be an issue in making a treatment decision."
Funding for the study came from the California Department of Health Services.
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