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From the Prostate Cancer Research Desk

What’s new in prostate cancer research? Highlights from this edition:

  • The potential benefits of yoga
  • Representation by race/ethnicity in clinical trials
  • The phenomenon of treatment regret

Yoga Improves Quality of Life in Men Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer
Nearly one-third of men diagnosed with prostate cancer experience anxiety and distress related to their disease and its treatment, resulting in lower quality of life. Many patients with prostate cancer report using complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, massage, and supplements. Research suggests that yoga could offer physical and psychological benefits. In a small randomized trial of 29 newly-diagnosed men, those who participated in 6 weeks of guided Hatha yoga practice before prostatectomy experienced meaningful improvement in quality of life vs. patients who did not receive the yoga intervention. The greatest benefits were seen in sexual function, fatigue, quality of life related to prostate cancer, and well-being. Yoga practice was also linked to a robust anti-tumor immune response and decreased inflammation.
Check with your provider before starting a yoga program if you are new to exercise. For more tips on stress reduction and incorporating exercise into your life, see PCF’s guide, The Science of Living Well, Beyond Cancer.

Despite Recent Gains, Black and Hispanic Patients Remain Underrepresented in Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials
Equity of participation in clinical trials is important for many reasons: for example, patients gain access to cutting-edge treatments, and researchers gain understanding of how treatments may work differently in different populations. Ultimately, disparities can affect survivorship. Black and Hispanic patients have historically had low participation in cancer clinical trials, but how that has changed in recent years was unknown.

A recent analysis of enrollment in National Cancer Institute clinical trials from 2015-2019 looked at the proportion of patients enrolled in clinical trials compared to the number of new cancer cases, by race/ethnicity subgroup. In prostate cancer, minority patients were less likely to participate in clinical trials vs non-Hispanic White patients. Black patients were 15% less likely to be enrolled, while Hispanic patients were 42% less likely to be enrolled compared with non-Hispanic White patients. However, the situation has improved over time: representation of Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander patients has significantly increased compared to 2000-2004. Read more about how PCF-funded Young Investigator Dr. Hala Borno is developing a new digital tool to help streamline recruitment of patients—including those from underrepresented populations—into clinical trials.

Treatment-Related Regret is Common Among Men with Localized Prostate Cancer
Some patients with prostate cancer may later regret decisions they have made about treatment. Treatment-related regret is a significant issue among patients with prostate cancer and has been linked to poor social/family relations, emotional well-being, and general functioning. Researchers are working to understand why it happens, and what doctors and patients can do to reduce it. A recent study of over 2000 men with localized prostate cancer reported that 13% of patients experience treatment regret 5 years after diagnosis. Compared with active surveillance (7%), patients who underwent surgery (16%) were significantly more likely to report treatment regret. 11% of patients treated with radiation therapy reported treatment regret. Other factors linked to treatment regret included sexual dysfunction and patients’ perceptions of treatment efficacy and side effects.

Each first-line treatment for localized prostate cancer has different benefits, risks, and side effects. It is critical that you ask your doctor to outline your risk for all possible outcomes of all possible treatment options before you select your path. Download PCF’s Prostate Cancer Patient Guide to learn more.