Men initially diagnosed in later stages more likely to say prostate cancer has impacted sexual health, people don't understand what they're going through
PHILADELPHIA, May 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The initial stage at which men are diagnosed with prostate cancer can have a significant impact on multiple facets of their quality of life, including their self-esteem, how they share feelings with others and their ability to "feel like a man." This is one of many key findings from Prostate Cancer In America 2019, a new survey from Health Union that illuminates the perspectives and experiences of people living with prostate cancer.
Respondents who were initially diagnosed at stage 1 or stage 2 prostate cancer were more likely than those diagnosed at stage 3 or stage 4 to say they won't let their condition stop them from making long-term plans. These men diagnosed at earlier stages were more likely to say they feel comfortable asking for support when they need it. That being said, when asked what type of support they wished they had, they were also more likely to say they don't need any support.
According to the American Cancer Society, being diagnosed at an earlier stage can often allow men and their healthcare professionals to consider several treatment options, based on their situation, needs and preferences. This is less of an option for those diagnosed at later stages, where there is a greater chance of the cancer spreading and, as a result, often more immediacy to treatment.
Those initially diagnosed with earlier stages of prostate cancer tend to have very different experiences than those diagnosed initially in the later stages. Survey respondents initially diagnosed at earlier stages were more likely than their late stage counterparts to currently have no evidence of the disease, to feel controlled on their current treatment plans and to be coping well with side effects. On the other hand, those with later stage initial diagnoses were more likely to have started treatment or had surgery within a month of diagnosis, have had a recurrence and have experienced a bevy of symptoms, including fatigue and the need to urinate frequently.
All of this can significantly affect patients' quality of life. Respondents initially diagnosed with a later stage were more likely to say they felt less like a man due to prostate cancer and more likely to say their self-esteem and self-image have become more negative since diagnosis than those diagnosed with an earlier stage. Perhaps related, they were also more likely to say prostate cancer has impacted their sexual health and intimacy.
The survey indicates that a later stage diagnosis can also contribute to more negative social well-being factors. Those individuals were more likely than their early stage diagnosis counterparts to say they feel like a burden when they share feelings or concerns with others. They also are more likely to say people don't understand what they're going through.
"It's important that we don't overlook just how different a person's journey with a specific condition can be based on various factors, in this case the initial diagnosis stage," said Tim Armand, co-founder and president of Health Union. "The findings of Prostate Cancer In America 2019 show just how important it is to understand the many aspects of quality of life and how they affect the patient journey."
Prostate Cancer In America 2019 surveyed 1,162 U.S. respondents living with prostate cancer from Sept. 24, 2018 to Jan. 30, 2019. A summary infographic of the results is available on ProstateCancer.net; additional survey results may be available upon request.
About Health Union
Health Union encourages social interactions that evolve into valuable online health conversations, helping people with chronic conditions find the information, connection and validation they seek. The company creates condition-specific online communities - publishing original, daily content and continuously cultivating social conversation - to support, educate and connect millions of people with challenging, chronic health concerns. Today, the Health Union family of brands includes 21 online health communities, including ProstateCancer.net, ParkinsonsDisease.net, MultipleSclerosis.net and Type2Diabetes.com.
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