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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Jul;12(7):610-7.

Cancer worry is associated with abnormal prostate-specific antigen levels in men participating in a community screening program.

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Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


An accumulating body of research suggests that psychological factors can affect physiological parameters. We assessed the association between the perceived risk of prostate cancer, prostate cancer-specific worry, and cancer-related symptoms and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels or the findings from digital rectal examination (DRE) in a large sample of men undergoing a free prostate cancer screening. Participants (n = 1635) completed a background questionnaire and a questionnaire that assessed their prostate cancer history, screening behavior, perceived risk of prostate cancer, and prostate cancer worry. PSA levels were then determined, and a DRE was conducted. A PSA level of >or=4.0 ng/ml was considered abnormal. The sample size for the multivariate analyses was reduced because of missing data on certain items. Participants who had an abnormal PSA level reported a significantly higher perceived cancer risk (P = 0.02), cancer worry (P = 0.004), and a greater percentage indicated the reason for the current screening was cancer-related symptoms (P = 0.014) than did participants who had normal PSA levels. Multivariate logistic regression analyses controlling for age, past screening behavior, past screening results, and reason for current screening revealed that perceived cancer risk [P = 0.01; odds ratio (OR), 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1-2.1], cancer worry (P = 0.001; OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.7-6.5), and cancer-related symptoms (P = 0.05; OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 1.1-10.3) remained significantly associated with an abnormal PSA level. When perceived cancer risk, cancer worry, and cancer-related symptoms were entered in the same multivariate analysis, only cancer worry remained in the model. The present findings suggest that prostate cancer-specific worry was associated significantly with an abnormal PSA level.

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