CHICAGOIn 1994, the National Cancer Institute began a
large-scale, longitudinal investigation of health-related quality of
life outcomes in men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Arnold Potosky,
PhD, updated the trials progress at a quality of life and
outcomes symposium sponsored by Northwestern University and Evanston
The project team is currently analyzing changes in quality of life
after a prostate cancer diagnosis in the study population, said Dr.
Potosky, senior investigator in the National Cancer Institutes
Division of Cancer Control and Population Science. Ultimately, he
expects the findings will be incorporated into clinical practice to
assist patients and physicians in making decisions about prostate
The project, known as the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study, is being
conducted by the NCIs Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End
Results (SEER) program in collaboration with six SEER cancer
The study is designed to determine the prevalence of complications
across a large population of men with prostate cancer and provide
generalizable results concerning prostate cancer practice patterns.
It is measuring variations in care, specific aspects of quality of
life, and the influence of comorbid conditions in men with
histologically confirmed invasive cancer of the prostate.
The objective is to find men soon after diagnosis and follow
them over the long term, Dr. Potosky said. To meet this goal,
the study used a rapid case ascertainment system that identified men
within 6 to 8 weeks of their diagnosis and mailed them a survey that
asked about their bowel and bladder symptoms and sexual function 6,
12, and 24 months after their diagnosis.
The study also obtains detailed information about the clinical
characteristics of the disease and the use of various types of
treatment through medical record abstracts from physicians and hospitals.
Since the study began, about 3,500 men out of a total identified
sample of 5,600 men have completed 6- or 12-month surveys. The racial
and ethnic breakdown is approximately 500 non-Hispanic black, 500
Hispanic, and 2,500 non-Hispanic white.
The cohort is drawn from six SEER areas (Los Angeles, Utah, Seattle,
New Mexico, Atlanta, and Connecticut), and the study population is
representative of the population of men with prostate cancer in the
SEER areas. Dr. Potosky noted that this is not to say that SEER
areas are representative of the country as a whole.
The NCI plans to conduct ongoing analyses of the data collected by
the study and to publish a newsletter for men who participate in the
study to keep them informed of its progress. The Institute also seeks
to get the word out about what were doing and get
feedback, Dr. Potosky said.