Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center have found that in African-American families where men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, they seem to have unmet psychosocial needs that affect survivorship, as well as family and social relationships.
Study lead Brian M. Rivers, PhD., M.P.H., assistant member of health outcomes and behavior, stated that African-Americans continue to experience higher morbidity and mortality rates from prostate cancer and lower survival rates when compared to men of other ethnic and racial groups.
The difference in prostate cancer survivorship and quality of life outcomes for African-American men and their families compared to other racial groups may be related to several factors:
- Stage of cancer at diagnosis
- Tumor biology
- Insurance coverage
- Lack of prostate cancer knowledge
- Mistrust, fear, and lack of culturally appropriate interventions
- Inadequate communication between patient and healthcare provider
Rivers states that prostate cancer treatment not only impacts the survivor, but also the primary caregiver and family members. He also stated that the aim of this study was to examine the role of sociocultural factors on the psychosocial impact among African-American prostate cancer survivors. Little has been documented on how African-American prostate cancer survivors respond and cope with physical and psychosocial outcomes.
The research team interviewed 12 African-American couples recruited from a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center registry and a state-based nonprofit organization. The couples were interviewed in an effort to obtain information regarding quality of life issues, such as physical and spiritual well being and communication between caregiver and patient.
The researchers found that African-American prostate cancer survivors had unmet needs regarding fear of recurrence while their spouses reported concern of not having enough information. The men also reported having minimal conversations with their wives about their cancer, but their wives did not want to force conversation with their husbands for fear of causing stress and anxiety.
Patients also expressed concern discussing the physical symptoms that may accompany prostate cancer treatment, such as erectile dysfunction. I believe this is an area that is oftentimes neglected by the patients’ healthcare provider as well.
Researchers note the fact that there is still a need for culturally appropriate interventions that include spirituality, information for symptom management, and more effective communication skills.
In order to improve the quality of life for this particular patient population, especially in regards to long-term effects of prostate cancer treatment, intervention should include marriage/family care. Healthcare providers should offer information to patients and their families so they have the necessary skills and information to communicate effectively with their spouses.
For those of you who treat the prostate cancer patients, do you find this to be an issue within the African-American population?
To view the full article of this study, please visit
Moffitt Cancer Center.