Heart disease tied to regret after prostate therapy

Men with heart problems are more likely to regret prostate cancer treatment than others, according to a recent study.

We've known for a while that men with other medical problems, such as heart disease, may get a smaller benefit from radiation or surgery, said Dr Timothy Showalter, a radiation oncologist at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia who was not involved in the research.

In the new study, researchers looked at nearly 800 men who had been treated for prostate cancer with surgery, radiation or hormone therapy, but now had signs the disease might be returning.

Overall, 15% said they regretted having been treated for their cancer.

Regrets from those diagnosed younger

And those with cardiovascular disease such as heart failure or diabetes were 52% more likely than others to regret the treatment they'd chosen for their cancer.

Dr Showalter called the study another piece of evidence that supports closely monitoring men with prostate cancer instead of treating them right away.

The new study, published online November 15th in the British Journal of Urology International, included 243 prostate cancer patients with cardiovascular disease, 343 with other health issues and 209 with no other diseases.

Researchers found men who regretted their treatment choice were also more likely to have been diagnosed at a younger age, be African American, or have experienced bowel problems from the therapy.

Other diseases may be reasons for regret

The study doesn't show why patients with heart problems had more second thoughts about their treatment.

One possible reason is that men dealing with other diseases may not be able to cope with the extra distress from cancer treatment, said study co-author Dr Paul Nguyen from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Dr Nguyen and his colleagues also said their study had a few limitations.

For instance, the researchers couldn't tell whether men regretted choosing one cancer treatment over another, or whether they regretted having been treated at all. And they only looked at patients with biochemical recurrence.

We didn't study all men with prostate cancer, so their feelings about treatment may be different from those who don't have recurring prostate cancer, Dr Nguyen told Reuters Health. This study tells men who have other diseases that maybe they should take a step back and not treat the cancer right away.

(Reuters Health, December 2011) 

Read more:

Facts about prostate cancer

Heart disease

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