Background: Quality-of-life outcomes are important in the choice of treatment strategy for men with localized prostate cancer.
Objective: To evaluate how follow-up time, number of physical symptoms, and presence of androgen deprivation affected quality of life among men randomized to radical prostatectomy or watchful waiting.
Design, setting, and participants: The study group was composed of all 376 living men included in the Swedish part of the Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group Study Number 4 (SPCG-4) between January 1, 1989, and February 29, 1996. Quality-of-life data were collected after a mean follow-up time of 4.1 yr.
Intervention: All patients were randomly assigned to radical prostatectomy or watchful waiting. Forty-five men were androgen deprived.
Measurements: Data of specific symptoms, symptom-induced stress, sense of well-being, and self-assessed quality of life were obtained by means of a questionnaire. Psychological symptoms were assessed using seven-point visual digital scales.
Results and limitations: In analyses stratified on the basis of the numbers of physical symptoms, anxiety and depressed mood were less common, and sense of well-being and self-assessed quality of life were better throughout in the radical prostatectomy group than in the watchful waiting group. As the number of physical symptoms increased, all psychological variables became worse and more prominent in the watchful waiting group. After a follow-up time of 6-8 yr, a significant decrease in quality of life (p=0.03) was seen in the watchful waiting group. Twenty-four percent of androgen-deprived patients assigned to watchful waiting reported high self-assessed quality of life compared with 60% in the radical prostatectomy group. Eighty-eight percent of patients had clinically detected tumors.
Conclusions: Androgen deprivation negatively affected self-assessed quality of life in men assigned to watchful waiting. The number of physical symptoms was associated with the level of quality of life. Quality of life was lower with longer follow-up time in both groups and was statistically significant in the watchful waiting group (p=0.03).