Identifying Psychosocial Distress and Stressors Using Distress-screening Instruments in Patients With Localized and Advanced Penile Cancer

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Abstract

Micro-Abstract

The psychological stress of patients with penile cancer arises from the cancer diagnosis per se and the corresponding consequences of treatment (loss of body integrity and sexual function). In addition, cancer-specific distress ensues (eg, fear of metastasis, progression, relapse, death). The present study examined the effects of curative and palliative treatment on the psychological well-being of patients with localized or advanced penile cancer using screening questionnaires to determine the consecutive need for psychosocial care. We undertook a prospective analysis of patients with penile cancer undergoing surgery or chemotherapy. The present study showed that patients with penile cancer have increased psychological stress and, consequently, an increased need for psychosocial care owing to the potentially mutilating surgery.

Background:

We examined the effects of treatment on the psychological well-being of patients with localized or advanced penile cancer using screening questionnaires to determine the consecutive need for psychosocial care. Penile cancer is a rare, but highly aggressive, malignancy. The psychological stress of patients with penile cancer arises from the cancer diagnosis per se and the corresponding consequences of treatment. In addition, cancer-specific distress results (eg, fear of metastasis, progression, relapse, death). Studies of the psychosocial stress of penile cancer patients are rare.

Material and Methods:

We undertook a prospective analysis of the data from patients with penile cancer who had undergone surgery or chemotherapy from August 2014 to October 2016 at our department. Patients were evaluated using standardized questionnaires for stress screening and the identification for the need for psychosocial care (National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer and Hornheider screening instrument) and by assessing the actual use of psychosocial support.

Results:

The average stress level was 4.5. Of all the patients, 42.5% showed increased care needs at the time of the survey. Younger patients, patients undergoing chemotherapy, and patients with recurrence were significantly more integrated with the psychosocial care systems. Finally, 67% of all patients received inpatient psychosocial care.

Conclusion:

Owing to the potentially mutilating surgery, patients with penile cancer experience increased psychological stress and, consequently, have an increased need for psychosocial care. Therefore, the emotional stress of these patients should be recognized and support based on interdisciplinary collaboration offered.

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