Life After Radical Prostatectomy

A Longitudinal Study

Published in: The Journal of Urology, v. 166, no. 2, Aug. 2001, p. 587-592

by Mark Litwin, Gil Y. Melmed, Terry T. Nakazono

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PURPOSE: The authors investigate the longitudinal recovery of quality of life after radical prostatectomy in men with localized prostate cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: They assessed the self-reported health related quality of life in 247 men undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer. Patients were assessed at baseline before surgery and postoperatively every 3 months for 1 year and then every 6 months for up to 48 months (median 30). We measured general and prostate specific health related quality of life with the RAND 36-Item Health Survey 1.0 SF-36 and University of California, Los Angeles Prostate Cancer Index. The Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to determine whether some patients were more likely than others to have a successful return to baseline functioning after treatment. RESULTS: In the SF-36 60% of patients reached baseline in all domains by 3 months. By 12 months, greater than 90% of patients reached baseline in all domains. Mean recovery time for these domains was about 4 1/2 months. The recovery of urinary function to baseline was 21% at 3, 56% at 12 and 63% at 30 months, respectively. About 80% of patients recovered to baseline urinary bother. In the urinary domains patients who recovered did so at an average of 7 to 8 months, and there was little additional recovery after 18 months. By 1 year postoperatively, approximately a third of patients reached baseline sexual function and about half recovered to baseline sexual bother. At 2 years postoperatively, sexual function and bother returned to baseline in 40% and 60% of patients, respectively. Mean recovery time was about 11 months for sexual function and about 9 months for sexual bother. There was little additional recovery in the sexual domains after 18 to 24 months. In the bowel domains more than two thirds of patients returned to baseline by 3 months, and greater than 90% recovered by 12 months, with a mean recovery of 4.8 months. Unmarried men were more likely than those married to regain baseline sexual function (p = 0.03) and urinary function (p = 0.07). Patients who were 65 years and older were more likely than those younger to return to baseline sexual bother (p = 0.03). There were trends that showed patients with higher incomes as well as those who were white were more likely to recover baseline scores for urinary function and the physical component summary. Another trend suggested that men with a higher education were less likely to regain urinary function (p = 0.08). CONCLUSIONS: Most quality of life recovery occurs early after radical prostatectomy, except in several domains, including urinary and sexual, which continue to improve even beyond 2 years postoperatively. Patients should be encouraged that recovery may continue for months or years after surgery.

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