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Faced With Prostate Cancer, It Helps to Know the Enemy

Men with little knowledge of the disease have trouble deciding on treatment, study finds.

Faced With Prostate Cancer, It Helps to Know the Enemy

FRIDAY, Aug. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate cancer patients lacking knowledge about the disease have difficulty making good treatment decisions. This can lead to worse quality of care and long-term results, new research suggests.

The study included 70 men, with a median age of 63. All were newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer.

Poor understanding of the disease was associated with greater difficulty deciding which treatment to choose and less confidence that the treatment would be effective, the study found.

"For prostate cancer, there is no one right answer when it comes to treatment. It comes down to the right answer for each specific patient, and that is heavily dependent on their own personal preferences," study first author Dr. Alan Kaplan, a resident physician in the urology department at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.

"Men in general, and specifically economically disadvantaged men, have a hard time deciding what their preferences are, how they feel about any possible complications and what the future after treatment might be like. If you don't know anything about your disease, you'll have a really tough time making a decision," Kaplan explained.

The findings, published in the Sept. 1 print issue of the journal Cancer, suggest that doctors need to identify and educate men with little knowledge about prostate cancer in order to help them feel more comfortable making treatment decisions.

"If you get shot in the gut, there aren't many options. You go into the operating room to get fixed up," Kaplan said. "With prostate cancer, there are lots of options and not all are right for everybody."

Treatment options for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation, and burning or freezing tumors. Or, patients might choose active surveillance. That means they don't receive treatment but are closely monitored for changes in their cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. This year, about 233,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and nearly 30,000 will die from the disease, according to the university news release.

More information

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

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, Aug. 26, 2014

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