Raising Awareness of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Karen Hoffman, MD, MHSc, MPH, and her team at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center investigated whether receiving counseling from a radiation oncologist in a multidisciplinary clinic increases prostate cancer patients’ awareness of radiation therapy as a treatment option with a favorable side effect profile. The study also examined whether the counseling changes prostate cancer patients’ treatment choice.
A large portion of men with localized prostate cancer only meet with a urologist who, according to previous studies, typically recommend surgery and frequently do not discuss radiation therapy with their patients. As a result, many prostate cancer patients may not be aware that radiation therapy is a treatment option with less impact on sexual and urinary function than surgery and cannot make a fully informed decision about their cancer care.
In the study, Dr. Hoffman and her team prospectively surveyed patients at their multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinic to:
- Compare patients’ awareness of radiation as a treatment option before and after counseling by a radiation oncologist.
- Determine if the counseling increased patients’ knowledge about how the side effects of radiation and surgery compare and whether the expectation of fewer urinary, bowel or sexual problems influenced their treatment choice.
- Assess whether the visit to the multidisciplinary clinic changed patients’ treatment choice and, if so, why.
- Evaluate patients’ satisfaction with the treatment decision and the decision-making process.
Results from the study will be used to develop patient education materials about the value of multidisciplinary prostate cancer care. The long-term goal of this study is to inform patients, providers and policymakers regarding the best practice environment in which to receive counseling about prostate cancer treatment options.