When Earl was diagnosed with prostate cancer last March, he thought his doctor would tell him precisely what he should do. To his surprise, his physician explained that several different treatments were available and that all were options for him, each with advantages and disadvantages. Each year, more than 200,000 men like Earl face this decision.
A new study sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will shed light on this decision-making process by surveying men recently diagnosed with localized prostate cancer. The study sites are the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (the coordinating center), the department of urology at the Health Science Center, the University of Southern California and the Medical University of South Carolina.
“We plan to enroll 200 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer at our site, and study how they decide what treatment they prefer,” said Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., professor and chairman of the department of urology and holder of the Henry B. and Edna Smith Dielmann Memorial Chair at the Health Science Center. “After they complete the initial questionnaire, they can have their therapy anywhere.”
“We will actually survey three groups of individuals involved in helping make a treatment decision: the patient, his family member or significant other, and the physician,” said urology research nurse Deni von Merveldt, R.N., M.S.N., the project coordinator. All three will complete surveys about factors involved in decision making, including the cancer itself, general health, finances, transportation, previous experiences with health care, sources of information and roles of family members. While physicians will fill out an initial survey, other participants will repeat surveys three times – at enrollment and at six and 12 months.
Selection criteria in San Antonio are narrowed to men who have not started treatment and who received their initial diagnosis or a second opinion in clinics associated with the Health Science Center department of urology, such as the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and the University Physicians Group. Interested individuals may call Von Merveldt at (210) 567-6510 to ask about eligibility.