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A study looking at how common anxiety and depression are in men having active surveillance for prostate cancer
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This study questioned men with prostate cancer who have chosen to delay treatment, to find out how much they are at risk of anxiety and depression.
If you have prostate cancer that is completely inside the prostate, you can have the following treatments
If your cancer is slow growing, your doctor can carefully monitor your cancer and only treat it if it gets worse. This is called active surveillance. If you choose active surveillance you avoid treatment side effects but need to live with the risk of your cancer possibly getting worse in the future.
In other cancers, treatment is usually started very quickly after diagnosis. This can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing, as people feel encouraged by immediate action. Men with prostate cancer who choose active surveillance don’t have this sense of encouragement. Researchers believed that this approach may actually raise levels of distress in these men.
They wanted to find out how common it was for men having active surveillance to develop anxiety and depression. They asked these men to complete some questionnaires to find out more. They also looked at men’s backgrounds to see if this had an effect on their mental wellbeing.
The aim of this study was to get an idea of how many men who chose active surveillance had anxiety or depression. They hoped that what they find out would help doctors in future to pick out men at risk of anxiety and depression as early as possible.
Summary of results
The study team found that men who were having active surveillance for prostate cancer had higher rates of depression and anxiety than the general population.
313 men having active surveillance joined this study. The majority of the men were either married or in a civil partnership (76%) and were of white British background (94%).
Everyone filled in questionnaires that asked about how they were feeling. When the researchers looked at their answers they found that
- 73 men had signs that they could be diagnosed with high anxiety
- 39 men had signs that they could be diagnosed with depression
The researchers said that the results showed 3 times more anxiety and twice as much depression in these men as in the general population.
They also found that men who were divorced were more likely to be depressed or anxious.
The study team concluded that men who were on active surveillance for their prostate cancer experienced higher rates of depression and anxiety than men in the general population. Ways need to be found to support these men to improve their management and their
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
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Professor George Lewith
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust