Quality of Life Outcomes After Brachytherapy for Early Stage Prostate Cancer

Published in: The Journal of Urology, v. 163, no. 3, Mar. 2000, p. 851-857

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2000

by Judson M. Brandeis, Mark Litwin, C. Michelle Burnison, Robert C. Reiter

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PURPOSE: The authors compare general and disease specific health related quality of life in men undergoing brachytherapy for early stage prostate cancer to those undergoing radical prostatectomy and age matched healthy controls. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cohorts consisted of 48 men treated with brachytherapy with and without pretreatment external beam radiation therapy (brachytherapy group), 74 who underwent radical prostatectomy (prostatectomy group) and age matched healthy controls from the literature. The RAND 36-item general health survey, University of California Los Angeles Prostate Cancer Index, American Urological Association symptom index, validated Cancer Interference with Life and Family Scales, and sociodemographic and co-morbidity questionnaires were completed 3 to 17 months after treatment. RESULTS: General health related quality of life did not differ greatly among the 3 groups. Urinary function (leakage) was worse in the brachytherapy group than in controls but better than in the prostatectomy group. Brachytherapy group patients had more irritative urinary symptoms and worse bowel function than controls. Sexual function and bother were worse in prostatectomy and brachytherapy groups than in healthy controls. Physical function, bodily pain, urinary function, and bother and American Urological Association symptom index scores improved with time after brachytherapy. Patients who underwent brachytherapy after external beam radiation performed worse in all general and disease specific health related quality of life domains compared to those who did not undergo pretreatment radiation therapy. CONCLUSIONS: At an average of 7.5 months after treatment the general health related quality of life of patients undergoing brachytherapy with and without pretreatment external beam radiation was similar to age matched controls, although urinary, bowel and sexual problems were reported. These problems appeared to improve during the first year after treatment. Much of the impairment in disease specific health related quality of life among patients undergoing brachytherapy may be attributed to pretreatment radiation.

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