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Stress Management Battles Prostate Cancer Anxiety

Brief counseling before, after surgery eases concern over side effects, study finds

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Stress management counseling appears to benefit men who have all or part of their prostate removed (radical prostatectomy) to treat early-stage prostate cancer, says a U.S. study.

The study included 159 patients who were assigned to receive one of the following: two 60- to 90-minute sessions of pre-surgical stress management counseling and brief booster sessions the morning of, and 48 hours following surgery; two 60- to 90-minute sessions of individual supportive attention sessions and boosters similar to the stress management group; or standard care (no therapy).

In the short term (one week before and the morning of surgery), men in the stress management group had the lowest levels of mood disturbance (distress, anxiety, depression), followed by those in the supportive attention group. There was a statistically significant difference between men in the stress management group and those in the standard care group, who had the highest levels of mood disturbance.

In the long term (six weeks and 12 months after surgery), the men in the stress management group reported the highest levels of physical functioning and aspects of quality of life. Again, the difference between the men in the stress management group and those in the standard care group was statistically significant.

The study was published in April in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"We know that for men with early-stage prostate cancer, the time when they are making treatment decisions is very stressful. A radical prostatectomy is not without possible, very personal, consequences, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Patients may also be worried about the uncertainty that the surgery will cure their cancer," senior author Lorenzo Cohen, a professor in the departments of behavioral science and general oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said in a news release.

"Before we can suggest that stress management is useful prior to surgery for all men undergoing a radical prostatectomy, we need to better understand the mechanism behind our findings, as well as understand for whom this type of intervention will be the most useful," Cohen noted. "However, that said, all diagnosed with cancer treatment should be encouraged to participate in any stress management program -- be it mind-body, or cognitive in nature. We know that they are safe and may improve patients' well-being and help them adjust to a cancer diagnosis."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer treatment.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, news release, April 6, 2009

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