Objectives: To examine the effect of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL), self-reported HRQOL was compared in prostate cancer patients receiving short- (< 6 months) or long-term (> or = 6 months) ADT and healthy controls.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Academic medical center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Participants: Ninety-six men, including those with prostate cancer receiving short-term, long-term, and no ADT and healthy controls. Men taking medications or having diseases known to affect bone mineral metabolism were excluded.
Measurements: The 36-item Short Form Medical Outcomes Study Health Survey (an HRQOL assessment) and a comorbidity index were administered to each participant. Characteristics, including body composition (assessed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) and gonadal status (serum total and free testosterone) were measured approximately 3 months or less before the HRQOL assessment.
Results: As expected, men receiving ADT had significantly lower levels of testosterone, free testosterone, and lean body mass, as well as greater body fat and comorbidity index (all P<.01) than men not receiving ADT (i.e., men with prostate cancer and healthy controls). Participants receiving ADT reported significantly poorer QOL in the areas of physical function (P<.001), general health (P<.001), and physical health component summary (P<.001) than men not receiving ADT. There were no significant differences in HRQOL outcomes between participants receiving short- or long-term ADT. Comorbidity and testosterone levels were associated with several QOL scales. After controlling for the significant joint predictors of comorbidity and total testosterone using hierarchical regression analysis, ADT was no longer a significant predictor, and only comorbidity and total testosterone contributed to the explanation of the variance of the physical health component summary. Comorbidity alone contributed to the explanation of the variance in physical function, bodily pain, general health, and vitality.
Conclusion: Patients with prostate cancer who were receiving ADT experience worse HRQOL than those not receiving ADT, but duration of ADT was not a contributing factor. After controlling for comorbidity, total testosterone level rather than ADT accounted for a small yet statistically significant percentage of the total variance of the physical health component summary. These findings have important clinical implications regarding the decision to treat prostate cancer patients with ADT.