Mindfulness Vs Prostate Cancer

We've touted the benefits of mindfulness here before, and studies have even praised mindfulness-based stress reduction as a tool for breast cancer patients. But some scientists in Australia don't believe men suffering from prostate cancer will enjoy the same perks.

The American Cancer Society has noted that, when all stages of prostate cancer are included, the five-year relative survival rate is almost 100 percent; the 10-year relative survival rate is 98 percent; and the 15-year rate is 95 percent. But 40 percent of the patients will eventually see their disease progress, and up to 20 percent will become metastatic at some point during their illness. The resultant psychosocial symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder which accompany this knowledge can be severe. The Griffith University researchers were hoping that a regimen of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) could offset the misery, but they were disappointed with their findings.

The scientists enlisted 189 patients and randomly assigned them to receive either an eight-week, group-based MBCT intervention delivered by telephone or minimally enhanced usual care; that is, the standard care for advanced prostate cancer patients minimally enhanced with patient education materials, such as a guide on nutrition for people with cancer, relaxation information, information on support services in the participant’s home state, and booklets on coping with cancer.

The MBCT for this trial consisted of getting men more aware of their experience, leading them to become less reactive to difficult experiences, and helping them to better cope with their disease.

At three, six and nine month intervals after their treatment had begun, the men were assessed. The group that received the “minimum” services showed no significant disadvantage when compared to the men who underwent MBCT.

The MBCT did, however, show an increase over time in their skill of observing, which was not seen in the “minimum” control group.

“MBCT in this format was not more effective than minimally enhanced usual care in reducing distress in men with advanced PC,” Chambers and her colleagues wrote. “Future intervention research for these men should consider approaches that map more closely to masculinity.”

The research has been published in The Journal of Clinical Oncolgy.