Purpose: Localized prostate cancer (LPC) patients are faced with numerous treatment options, including observation or watchful waiting. The choice of treatment largely depends on their baseline health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE). By consensus, physicians recommend treatment if the patient's HALE is ten or more years. However, the estimation of HALE is difficult. Although subjective by nature, self-rated health (SRH) is a robust predictor of mortality. We studied the usefulness of SRH in estimating HALE in patients who are considering treatment for LPC.
Methods: A total of 144 LPC patients from a large urology private practice in Norfolk, Virginia, were surveyed before they had chosen a treatment option.
Results: HALE determined by SRH correlated well with objective health measures and was higher than age-based life expectancy by an average of 2 years. The observed difference in life expectancy due to SRH adjustment was higher among patients with a better socioeconomic and health profile.
Conclusions: SRH is an easy-to-use indicator of HALE in LPC patients. A table for HALE estimation by age and SRH is provided for men aged 70-80 years. Additional research with larger samples and prospective study designs are needed before the SRH method can be used in primary care and urology settings.