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Prostate Cancer Diagnosis – Interventions Required for Elderly Men?

A new study published in the February issue of JNCCN finds that men older than 67 who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are 37 percent more likely to have non-cancer-related hospitalization after diagnosis than before diagnosis, pointing to the need to better manage non-cancer conditions after a cancer diagnosis. It is quite possible that cancer treatment and anxiety distracts them from other health care problems

FORT WASHINGTON, PA — A cancer diagnosis presents challenges in managing other existing non-cancer health conditions. In many cases, these chronic conditions may worsen until hospitalization is needed. Recently, West Virginia University researchers examined non-cancer-related hospitalizations in men diagnosed with prostate cancer and found that men age 67 or older were 37 percent more likely to be hospitalized for non-cancer reasons after cancer diagnosis than before. The study was published in the February issue of JNCCN – Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

More than 220,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the United States, and the average age for diagnosis is 66. Many of these patients are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early stage and have an excellent cancer-related survival profile. Therefore, the care of non-cancer conditions constitutes an important health care need even for those with prostate cancer.

“The study findings underscore the necessity of targeted research, program, policy, and intervention efforts required to reduce the incidence of non-cancer-related hospitalizations in elderly men with prostate cancer,” said lead author, Amit D. Raval, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy, School of Pharmacy, West Virginia University. “Effective communication between oncologists and primary care physicians should be facilitated in order to design and implement individualized care programs for patients, taking into account their pre-existing conditions, in order to lead to optimal outcomes for the patient.”

The population-based retrospective cohort study was conducted using the SEER-Medicare linked database for years 2000 – 2010; the study cohort consisted of more than 57,000 men with prostate cancer who were 67 years or older. The study found the rate of hospitalization for non-cancer reasons was 37 percent higher in the time period following cancer diagnosis than before diagnosis.

While the reasons for this higher rate are not certain, the authors suggest that it may be because cancer treatment distracts from other health care problems, or that stress and anxiety may make other health care problems worse.

Silence is not a cure … men must become more pro-active when it comes to their health – Men must learn to speak up.  This is  particularly true of African American Men who are often diagnosed when the disease is in an advanced stage.

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