A new article was just published by Dr. Laurel Northouse, PhD from the University of Michigan that studied the effect of Prostate Cancer diagnosis on the patients’ spouse. This might sound like common sense to most of us, what affects one spouse affects the other spouse as well. In this study, the depths of the distress and worry seen in the spouses sugges that they often need more help then what they are currently getting.
“Doctors, nurses, and even family and friends often focus mainly on the patient who has cancer and don’t realize the illness has enormous ramifications on the family, especially the spouse,” Northouse says in a news release.
Northouse’s advice: Patients and their spouses should “work as a team together to deal with the illness.”
This study was based off of 263 prostate cancer patients and their wives. The couples on the study were given a questionairre that asked each of them about their quality of ife after the diagnosis was made. The questions were directly related to such topics as: quality of life, including physical, social, family, emotional and functional issues. Patients and spouses each reported on their own quality of life.
The researchers found little difference in quality of life between patients and spouses. The study did show that the stage that the husbands’ cancer was a major influence on the quality of life for the couple. Couples coping with advanced disease had significantly poorer overall quality of life.
“The spouses of advanced cancer patients are really carrying the load. Cancer is a devastating illness, and a patient’s primary resource is the partner, who often doesn’t have the information she needs to deal with these complex problems.
“This isn’t just a common cold – this is the person you love and care about dealing with a life-threatening illness,” says lead study author Laurel Northouse, Ph.D., R.N., co-director of the Socio-Behavioral Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Quality-of-life ratings were highest for the 170 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and their wives, followed by the 33 men with recurrent prostate cancer and their wives. Quality-of-life ratings were lowest for the 60 men with advanced prostate cancer and their wives.
But there was more to it than that.
The patients’ wives were as distressed as their spouses about prostate cancer. The wives also reported less social support and less confidence in their ability to manage prostate cancer, compared with the patients themselves.
The researchers call for new programs to help the wives of prostate cancer patients.
You can find the full article in the Journal of Oncology.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM