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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Mar 15;19(6):1619-28.

Health-related quality-of-life effects of radical prostatectomy and primary radiotherapy for screen-detected or clinically diagnosed localized prostate cancer.

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Department of Public Health, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



The current study was undertaken within the framework of a screening trial to compare the health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes of two primary treatment modalities for localized prostate cancer: radical prostatectomy and external-beam radiotherapy.


We conducted a prospective longitudinal cohort study among 278 patients with early screen-detected (59%) or clinically diagnosed (41%) prostate cancer using both generic and disease-specific HRQOL measures (SF-36, UCLA Prostate Cancer Index [urinary and bowel modules] and items relating to sexual functioning) at three points in time: t1 (baseline), t2 (6 months later), and t3 (12 months after t1).


Questionnaires were completed by 88% to 93% of all initially enrolled patients. Patients referred for primary radiotherapy were significantly older than prostatectomy patients (63 v 68 years, P <.01). Analyses (adjusted for age and pretreatment level of functioning) revealed poorer levels of generic HRQOL after radiotherapy. Prostatectomy patients reported significantly higher (P <.01) posttreatment incidences of urinary incontinence (39% to 49%) and erectile dysfunction (80% to 91%) than radiotherapy patients (respectively, 6% to 7% and 41% to 55%). Bowel problems (urgency) affected 30% to 35% of the radiotherapy group versus 6% to 7% of the prostatectomy group (P <.01). Patients with screen-detected and clinically diagnosed cancer reported similar posttreatment HRQOL.


Prostatectomy and radiotherapy differed in the type of HRQOL impairment. Because the HRQOL effects may be valued differently at the individual level, patients should be made fully aware of the potential benefits and adverse consequences of therapies for early prostate cancer. Differences in posttreatment HRQOL were not related to the method of cancer detection.

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