The new findings are published Feb. 2 in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"One of the important considerations for clinical practice, based on our findings, is that a cancer diagnosis is an important moment for physicians to intervene with the cancer patient," Mucci said. "The data suggest it is important to think about the whole person, that additional doctors need to be consulted. It may be a critical time when you must provide the patients with additional resources and social support."
It helps if a man can be told that his chance of survival is good, Mucci said -- which it is. The latest statistics show that for localized prostate cancer, the five-year survival is now close to 99 percent.
The Harvard researchers are currently trying out a program that seeks to ease the effects of a cancer diagnosis on the cardiovascular system by enrolling men in a walking program. "We have done a pilot project and have applied for funding for a larger program," Mucci said.
"This type of epidemiological data should make people more aware and sensitive to the fact that certain individuals may need extra help, particularly in the first month after diagnosis," said Lorenzo Cohen, director of the integrative medicine program at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who has studied the effect of counseling on men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In research reported last year, Cohen and his colleagues compared a group of men with the diagnosis who were either started on either a stress-management program, given supportive attention or given ordinary care in the weeks after the diagnosis.
"We did find that stress management, more than supportive attention, lowered the level of disturbance and gave better q
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