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J Urol. 1999 Feb;161(2):515-9.

Recovery of health related quality of life in the year after radical prostatectomy: early experience.

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Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.



We determined the temporal course of patient return to baseline quality of life after treatment with radical prostatectomy for early stage prostate cancer.


After establishing a longitudinal observational database of men undergoing radical retropubic prostatectomy we used established, validated quality of life questionnaires (RAND 36-Item Health Survey and University of California, Los Angeles Prostate Cancer Index) to document changes in general and disease specific health related quality of life (HRQOL). We assessed 90 patients at baseline before surgery and then at 3-month intervals for 1 year postoperatively. Logistic regression was used to explore predictors of the return to baseline.


After prostatectomy patients had a significant decrease in all domains of HRQOL. Return to baseline was rapid in the general and bowel domains with at least two-thirds to three-fourths of patients reaching pretreatment levels within 6 months of surgery. Return to baseline was slower in the urinary and sexual function domains with 61 and 31% of the men, respectively, reaching pretreatment levels by 1 year after surgery. Of those who reached baseline the average intervals for the bowel, sexual and urinary domains were 5, 6 and 7 months, respectively. Married and white patients were more likely to achieve a return to baseline HRQOL during year 1 postoperatively. However, education level was inversely associated with the likelihood of returning to baseline.


During the year after radical prostatectomy for early stage prostate cancer patient quality of life steadily improved. By 3 months postoperatively 30 to 40% of the patients had already recovered baseline levels of physical, mental and social functioning, and by 6 months more than 70% had reached baseline in the general HRQOL domains. By 12 months after surgery 86 to 97% of the patients had returned to baseline levels in each domain. Each domain continued to improve throughout the year. For the patients who reached baseline general HRQOL during followup average recovery time was 5 to 6 months.

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