treatment for prostate cancer

In a preliminary study, researchers looked at options for encouraging lifestyle changes after treatment for prostate cancer.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits just below the bladder in men and encases the urethra (outflow tube from the bladder). Its function is to make the fluid contained in semen. As men age, there is an increased risk of developing cancer in the prostate gland. Around one in eight men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and it is the most common male cancer in the Western world. Fortunately, prostate cancer is usually slow-growing and, if treated in its early stages, the survival rates are very good.

Lifestyle changes after treatment for prostate cancer, such as increasing exercise and a healthy diet, appear to improve overall survival. However, most men do not make these changes spontaneously. Researchers at Bristol University in the UK looked at the acceptability of dietary and exercise changes for men who had recently had treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. This was a preliminary study, with a plan to use the information gathered to help develop effective interventions for encouraging lifestyle changes in these patients. The findings were recently reported in the journal BMC Urology.

Men undergoing treatment for localized prostate cancer who were attending the same Urology Outpatient Clinic in Bristol between July and December 2013 were invited to be interviewed along with their partners. A total of 16 men and seven partners took part in semi-structured interviews with the researchers. Following a general introduction, an example six-month lifestyle intervention was described where men would be asked to walk briskly for 30 minutes five days per week as well as either taking a daily dietary supplement or increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and reducing dairy intake. The researchers then discussed the acceptability of the described lifestyle changes and what factors patients thought would help or hinder them in making the changes.

Men were open to lifestyle modification and family support was considered key to making changes. Interventions that were easy-to-understand, enjoyable, and endorsed by doctors were seen as attractive. Possible barriers to change included digital technology (for collecting research data on behavior changes), poor weather (preventing outdoor exercise), competing time commitments or physical limitations – in particular, urinary incontinence following radical prostatectomy. Men were generally positive about participating in research programs.

The researchers concluded that after treatment for prostate cancer, men are generally willing to make lifestyle modifications, particularly if these are supported by clinicians and family. They noted that digital technology to collect research data may not be suitable for all patients, and other methods may be needed. In addition, urinary incontinence following prostate surgery can be a barrier to some types of exercise. These findings will be incorporated into the development of appropriately tailored lifestyle interventions for these patients.

Written by Julie McShane, Medical Writer


Hackshaw-McGeagh L, Sutton E, Persad R, et al. Acceptability of dietary and physical activity lifestyle modification for men following radiotherapy or radical prostatectomy for localised prostate cancer: a qualitative investigation. BioMed Central Urology (2017) 17:94 DOI 10.1186/s12894-017-0284-5.

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