Veterans With PTSD Fare Worse With Concurrent Prostate Cancer

by U.S. Medicine

September 18, 2017

EAST NORTHPORT, NY—Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be difficult enough. But what happens when the patient also is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

A presentation at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology explored that question.1

A study team led by researchers from the Northport VAMC had patients with prostate cancer at a VA hospital complete self-report surveys assessing their overall health status from September 2015 to October 2016.

Survey results for patients with PTSD were then compared to those without PTSD. Patients were considered to have PTSD if they either had a diagnosis of PTSD in their Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or scored 50 or greater on the PTSD Checklist—Civilian Version (PCL-C).

Health outcomes included scores on the following measures: VR-36 (Physical Component Score [PCS] and Mental Component Score [MCS]), Beck Depression Index (BDI), Beck Anxiety Index (BAI), and Pain Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).

Overall, 104 veterans, 18 of them with PTSD, completed all surveys. The average age was 74.6, and most, 82.7%, of patients were Caucasian. Veterans with PTSF were significantly younger.

Although no PTSD-related differences were found for race/ethnicity, BMI, or VR-36 PCS scores, patients with the condition had lower overall VR-36 MCS scores (36.9±12.8 vs. 52.7±10.5; p<0.001) and higher Pain VAS scores (3.9±2.6 vs. 2.1±2.2; p<0.01).

The veterans with PTSD also were more likely to meet criteria for depression (61.1% vs. 8.1%) and anxiety (55.6% vs. 4.7%). and to have a history of suicidality (18.75% vs. 0.00%).

“Compared to PTSD veterans with prostate cancer, PTSD+ patients were more likely to self-report increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain as well as overall poorer mental health status,” study authors wrote. “Further research is warranted to identify opportunities to improve mental health care for PTSD+ veterans with prostate cancer.”

1. Wen-Wei T, Bevilacqua LA, Romeiser JL, Vanner EA, et al. Self-reported health outcomes of veterans with prostate cancer: The impact of PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms. J Clin Oncol 35, 2017 (suppl; abstr e16589)


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