Relationship between illness uncertainty, anxiety, fear of progression and quality of life in men with favourable-risk prostate cancer undergoing active surveillance

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate prospectively the associations between illness uncertainty, anxiety, fear of progression and general and disease-specific quality of life (QoL) in men with favourable-risk prostate cancer undergoing active surveillance (AS).

Patients and Methods

After meeting stringent enrollment criteria for an AS cohort study at a single tertiary care cancer centre, 180 men with favourable-risk prostate cancer completed questionnaires at the time of enrollment and every 6 months for up to 30 months. Questionnaires assessed illness uncertainty, anxiety, prostate-specific QoL (using the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite [EPIC] scale) and general QoL (using the 12-time short-form health survey [SF-12]) and fear of progression. We used linear mixed-model analyses and multilevel mediation analyses.

Results

Sexual scores on the EPIC scale significantly declined over time (P < 0.05). Illness uncertainty was a significant predictor of all EPIC summary scores, SF-12 physical component summary (PCS) scores, mental component summary (MCS) scores and fear of progression scores (all P < 0.05), after controlling for demographic and clinicopathological factors. Anxiety predicted all EPIC summary, MCS and fear of progression scores (all P < 0.05) but not PCS scores (P = 0.08). Scores on PCS, MCS, EPIC summary scales (except sexual scale), and fear of progression did not change significantly over the study period (all P > 0.10).

Conclusion

Over the 2.5-year follow-up, QoL remained stable; only sexual function scores significantly declined. Illness uncertainty and anxiety were significant predictors of general and prostate-specific QoL and fear of progression. Interventions to reduce uncertainty and anxiety may enhance QoL for men with prostate cancer on AS.

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