ATLANTAMany urologists treating men with prostate cancer are
unaware that their patients are experiencing such disturbing
treatment side effects as hot flashes, altered bowel habits, or
weight change, according to the results of a national survey
announced at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American
Urological Association (AUA).
While 24% of patients surveyed said they had experienced hot flashes,
for example, only 16% of urologists said that their patients had this
difficulty during treatment.
When it comes to less common, but at times psychologically
devastating, side effects, the disconnect between patients and
physicians is even greater: For example, patients reported
gynecomastia and loss of muscle strength three times more often than
prostate cancer is tough, and a key to winning the treatment battle
is communication between patient and doctor, said New York
Yankees manager Joe Torre, a prostate cancer survivor who served as
an advisor to the survey. Patients need to tell doctors about
treatment issues, and doctors should cover the full range of side
effects so that no one is surprised.
To help close these gaps in physician-patient communication, a
program called Managing Success: Rethinking Prostate Cancer
Care and Survival is in development and will be launched this fall.
An alliance of prominent urologists and oncologists, US TOO
International (a prostate cancer advocacy and support organization),
the American Foundation of Urologic Disease, and Mr. Torre, will
shape the program, which is being supported by Amgen and Praecis Pharmaceuticals.
The survey, conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide in March and April,
consisted of in-depth telephone interviews with a random
cross-section of 302 urologists and 307 men who were diagnosed with
prostate cancer in the last 2 years.
Even though prostate cancer and the side effects of treatment can
take an enormous psychological toll on patients, almost 40% of
urologists surveyed said they never discuss emotional effects of
treatment with patients. Doctors who do report discussing emotional
issues may not be getting through to patients. While 43% of
urologists said they discuss anxiety with their patients and 36% said
they discuss depression, only about one fourth of patients said their
doctors talked to them about these issues.
Overestimating Internet Use
Although almost 90% of the doctors surveyed said they believe their
patients are getting information from the Internet, only 19% of the
prostate cancer patients said they are going online for more
information about their disease.
The survey also showed that patients are not taking advantage of
prostate cancer support groups. Nearly 40% of the urologists said
they encourage patients to attend support groups, but only 12% of
patients said they attend.