Symptoms predicting health-related quality of life in prostate cancer patients treated with localized radiation therapy

Objective: Patient-reported health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) measures can provide guidance for treatment decision making, symptom management, and discharge planning. HRQOL is often influenced by the distress experienced by patients from disease or treatment-related symptoms. This study aimed to identify symptoms that can predict changes in HRQOL in men undergoing external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) for nonmetastatic prostate cancer (NMPC).

Methods: Fifty-one men with NMPC scheduled for EBRT were assessed at the baseline, at the midpoint of EBRT, and at the end of EBRT. All participants received 38‐42 daily doses of EBRT (five times a week), depending on the stage of their disease. Validated questionnaires were administered to evaluate depressive symptoms, urinary and sexual functions, bowel issues, symptom-related distress, fatigue, and HRQOL. Pearson correlations, repeated-measures ANOVA, and multiple regressions examined the relationships among variables.

Results: Intensification of symptoms and increased symptom-related distress, with a corresponding decline in HRQOL, were observed during EBRT in men with NMPC. Changes in symptoms and symptom distress were associated with changes in HRQOL at the midpoint of EBRT (r=‐0.37 to ‐0.6, P=0.05) and at the end of EBRT (r=‐0.3 to ‐0.47, P=0.01) compared with the baseline. The regression model comprising age, body mass index, Gleason score, T category, androgen-deprivation therapy use, radiation dose received, symptoms (urinary/sexual/bowel problems, fatigue), and overall symptom distress explained 70% of the variance in predicting HRQOL. Urinary problems and fatigue significantly predicted the decline in HRQOL during EBRT.

Conclusion: Identifying specific symptoms that can influence HRQOL during EBRT for NMPC can provide feasible interventional targets to improve treatment outcomes.