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Most Not Worried by Delayed Prostate Cancer Therapy

Little anxiety noted in survey of men who opt out of aggressive treatment

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Men who delay treatment for their early prostate cancer are not especially anxious about living with the disease, new Dutch research shows.

The evidence seems to contradict the assumption that living with untreated prostate cancer is nerve-wracking for most patients, according to Dr. Roderick van den Bergh, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, and colleagues. The findings are published in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer.

The researchers surveyed 129 men regarding their levels of depression and anxiety over their treatment decision. More than 80 percent scored favorably low and compared well emotionally with patients who had opted for more aggressive treatment, the study found.

Men who were in poor general health and those with neurotic personalities expressed higher levels of anxiety and distress, suggesting that factors other than cancer may impact a patient's emotional response, the researchers noted.

The study is especially useful in an era when prostate-specific antigen tests and other screening exams are uncovering prostate cancer at increasingly earlier stages. Many physicians practice a "wait-and-see" approach to treatment, saving the more aggressive therapies for when the cancer grows or spreads, according to information in a news release from the American Cancer Society.

Nationally, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers and is expected to strike more than 190,000 men this year, and result in over 27,000 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. But thanks to more effective screenings and treatments, while one in six U.S. men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime, only one in 35 will actually die of the disease. What's more, there are more than 2 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point and are still alive today, according to the society.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on prostate cancer.

-- Peter West

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, July 27, 2009

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