Nursing Care and Prostate Cancer

Afza.Malik GDA

Prostate Cancer and Nursing Care

Nursing Care and Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer,Pathological Demographics of Prostate,Health Outcomes and Quality of Life in Prostate Cancer,Malignancy of Prostate Cancer,Medical Research and Endemics to Prostate Cancer,Prostate Cancer and Nursing Research Topics,Nursing Research on Prostate Cancer,Subjective Description about Prostate Cancer,Prostate Cancer Screening 

Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer is the most prevalent visceral cancer in men in the United States; some 1.3 million men now live with it (American Cancer Society, 2003b). It has been estimated that 70% of men who survive to 80 years of age have evidence of histologic or latent prostate cancer (Pienta & Esper, 1993). 

    Some researchers, and a great many clinicians and their patients, believe histologic prostate cancer eventually leads to clinically evident cancer (Pienta, Goodson, & Esper, 1996). Thus, in an effort to influence the natural history of prostate cancer, intensive screening efforts dominated by the use of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in the past 2 decades have led to the diagnosis of scores of asymptomatic, latent cancers. 

    These efforts have resulted in reports of both increased incidence and prevalence of prostate cancer (Newschaffer, 1997), accounting for a doubling of incidence of prostate cancer in the US in the 10-year period from 1984 to 1994 (Parkin, Pisani, & Ferlay , 1999).

Pathological Demographics of Prostate 

    Approximately 80% of the 220,900 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 will learn that they have locally confined disease early-stage prostate cancer (Jemal et al., 2002). Therapeutic alternatives for early-stage prostate cancer include radical prostatectomy, external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy, cryosurgery, and observation (“watchful waiting”). 

    Although approximately one third of patients with early-stage prostate cancer elect radical prostatectomy, none of the active treatments has been shown to offer a survival advantage over observation, although an interim analysis of one trial suggests a small reduction in prostate cancer specific efficacy but not overall mortality (Harris & Lohr, 2002; Holmberg et al, 2002). 

    Moreover, each of the active treatments, including radical prostatectomy, is associated with physical side effects, including urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction, which may have substantial effects on quality of life.

Health Outcomes and Quality of Life in Prostate Cancer

    Most research on “quality of life” outcomes in early prostate cancer has focused on the often-problematic side effects of active treatment, including urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction (Talcott et al., 1998). 

    Recent prospective studies have shown that after brief declines, generic measures of quality of life return to baseline levels by 12 months after primary prostate cancer treatment. 

    However, for some, urinary and sexual dyes function may persist indefinitely, accounting for varying levels of psychological distress related to changes in masculine identity, stigmatization, or demoralization (Powel, 2002; Clark, Rieker, Propert, & Talcott, 1999; Pirl & Melo, 2002).

Malignancy of Prostate Cancer

    Prior to the PSA era prostate cancer was a malignancy often detected only in late stages, and associated with imminent death (Litwin, 1994). In the past 20 years the proportion of late to early-stage disease has shifted dramatically. 

    Recent findings indicated that there has been a significant reduction in the incidence of metastatic stage disease at diagnosis, and men are being diagnosed at an earlier age. These findings have supported the emphasis on local treatment (ie, radical prostatectomy and external beam radiotherapy), for which the S-year survival rate approximates 100%. 

    However, the survival curve declines with longer follow-up, with 54% of those determined to be at low risk of recurrence (risk derived from initial PSA, Gleason score, and clinical stage) recurring by 15 years (D'Amico et al., 1998). 

    The mean onset of clinical metastasis (eg, symptomatic skeletal metastasis) corresponds to Gleason score; those men with Gleason scores of less than 8 having a 27% chance of disease progression at 5 years after biochemical recurrence, whereas men with Gleason scores of 8 to 10 have a 60% chance of clinical metastasis at 5 years (Pound et al., 1999; Kupelian, Elshaikh, Reddy, Zippe, & Klein, 2002). 

    Thus, while intensive screening has led to the diagnosis of earlier stage disease and improved local therapy, many are left with lifelong physical consequences of primary treatment, and recurrence is increasingly common within 5 years. Thus, prostate cancer represents a significant health problem.

Medical Research and Endemics to Prostate Cancer

    Medical research is addressing many of the clinical challenges endemic to prostate cancer management. 

    Research that is underground relates to the genetic predisposition of prostate cancer and mechanisms of carcinogenesis, updates in the screening of prostate cancer, improved imaging techniques, recent advances in the technical aspects of local therapies, the use of nomograms to predict outcome probabilities, advances in hormonal. 

    Treatment for prostate cancer, including mechanisms potentially useful in reducing the risk of prostate cancer, the role of dietary and complementary therapies in prostate cancer, the role of chemotherapy in the treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer, and the integration of bisphosphonates, radioisotopes, and radiation therapy in the treatment of bone metastasis. 

    While these studies represent impressive strides, other clinical concerns are not well studied. With an estimated 380,000 new cases of prostate cancer expected by 2025, research conducted by nurses over the next few decades is warranted.

Prostate Cancer and Nursing Research Topics

    In an Index Medicus search of manuscripts on prostate cancer written by nurses, 170 articles were found from 1974-2003. Of these, 45 were reports of original research on 16 different topics, including: 

    cancer related fatigue (2), complementary/alternative care (1), coping (2), couples (6), culturally sensitive care (1), decision making (3), spirituality (2), men's concerns (2), quality of care (2), quality of life (7), screening (6), sexuality (1), survivors (1), treatment outcomes (5), uncertainty (1), and watchful waiting (2).

Nursing Research on Prostate Cancer

    In essence, nursing research on prostate cancer has focused on screening of high-risk individuals and effects of local therapy, including feelings of uncertainty, impact on quality of life, and impact of prostate cancer on couples. 

    Two themes were common to many of these reports: (1) patients do not receive sufficient information to make informed decisions about treatment, and (2) patients are infrequently asked about their experiences related to prostate cancer and its treatment.

    Several studies found that men have a poor understanding of prostate cancer and its treatment, what conditions to expect after treatment, and how to manage postoperative symptoms and the emotional consequences of primary treatment. 

    Investigators addressed this issue at various time points in the treatment experience just after diagnosis, while waiting for surgery or radiotherapy, and immediately postoperatively. While several studies interviewed only men, others included a spouse or partner in the interview either individually, as a dyad, or both. 

    The studies that interviewed men typically focused on the impact of physical changes men experienced after local therapy, whereas those that included couples addressed concerns that were slightly different. 

    For example, in one study couples expressed the need to readdress their marital relationship after the illness as well as a cohesive message from the couple about how much information they would share with others about the cancer (Gray, Fitch, Phillips, Labrecque, & Klotz , 1999). In another study, couples were concerned with how to cope with the changes and the uncertainty of their future (Harden et al., 2002). 

    Three intervention studies used psychological distress as an outcome of insufficient information to increase information sharing that was consistent with the subject's interest and decision making style. 

    All showed decreased psychological distress as a result of information related interventions (Davidson, Goldenberg, Gleave, & Degner, 2003; Johnson, J., Fieler, Wlasowicz, Mitchell, & Jones, 1997; Johnson, J., 1996).

Subjective Description about Prostate Cancer

    When an investigator takes the time to ask about patient's experiences, patients tell them. The problem is that they are not being asked very often. When they are asked, they do not often feel as if their concerns are legitimate. 

    Indeed, several papers articulated the value of in-depth interviewing as a method of ascertaining sensitive information from men regarding feelings about changes in physical function following primary treatment and the impact it has had on their relationships and lifestyle. 

    This concern was also apparent in two studies focusing on measuring cancer-related fatigue, a particularly distressing problem for men with recurrent disease. They found that dimensions of fatigue, particularly as it related to patients with metastatic cancer, had not been well articulated. 

    The investigators recommended that more time be spent on extrapolating meaning from people's experiences rather than being so quick to measure them with instruments that assess cancer related fatigue and therefore may not include all of the attributes that patients experience.

Prostate Cancer Screening 

    In addition to the papers that related to these themes, Weinrich and colleagues” (2004) mention impressive program of research in prostate cancer screening warrants. These investigators have focused on screening in African American men in whom prostate cancer is disproportionately present, as well as rural low- and middle-income men

    They have crafted population specific interventions that have improved screening by attempting to understand barriers as well as what motivates individuals to participate in screening.

    The nature of the concerns that men with prostate cancer describe warrants attention by nurse researchers. Given the recent evidence on prostate cancer screening, researchers will be challenged to help interpret these findings in a way that informs men's choices. 

    Treatment choices are incredibly complex and thus studies that address the information gap that men have articulated must be addressed. The physical consequences of primary treatment, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, often invoke difficult behavioral, emotional, and interpersonal changes that are poorly understood and therefore require attention. 

    A clearer understanding of the emotional and physical issues related to cancer recurrence is necessary in order to provide appropriate care to men who face recurrent prostate cancer. To date much of the research conducted by nurses has been descriptive or exploratory; additional research is needed.


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