2017 Study Abstract
To assess localized prostate cancer (PC) patients’ understanding of the differences in outcomes and risks of radical prostatectomy (RP), radiotherapy (RT), and active surveillance (AS), and to identify correlates of misperceptions.
Patients And Methods
We used baseline data (questionnaires completed after treatment information was provided but prior to treatment) of 426 newly diagnosed localized PC patients who participated (87% response rate) in a prospective, longitudinal, multicenter study. Patients’ pretreatment perceptions of differences in adverse outcomes of treatments were compared to those based on the literature. We used univariate and multivariate linear regression to identify correlates of misperceptions.
Approximately two-third (68%, n=211) of the patients did not understand that the risk of disease recurrence is comparable between RP and RT. More than half of the patients did not comprehend that RP patients are at greater risk for incontinence (65%, n=202) and erectile dysfunction (61%, n=190), and less at risk for bowel problems (53%, n=211) compared to RT patients. Many patients overestimated the risk of requiring definitive treatment following AS (45%, n=157), and did not understand that mortality rates following AS, RP, and RT are comparable (80%, n=333). Consulting a radiotherapist or a clinical nurse specialist was positively associated with, and emotional distress was negatively associated with better understanding of the risks (p<0.05), although effect sizes were small.
Prior to choosing treatment, the majority of PC patients poorly understood the differences in treatment risks. Greater efforts should be made to better understand why these misperceptions occur and, most importantly, how they can be corrected.