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Addressing the Pre-Surgery Jitters

Conquest - Summer 2009

By Laura Sussman

It is only natural that men facing a radical prostatectomy might experience stress and mood swings. Not only do they have to accept the possible personal consequences, which may include urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but they may worry about whether or not the surgery will cure their cancer.

Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D.

To address this situation, researchers at
M. D. Anderson initiated the first study to examine the benefits of psychosocial intervention for prostate cancer patients prior to surgery. It found that men who participated in brief stress management sessions prior to and immediately after surgery experienced less short-term mood disturbance and better long-term quality of life, compared to patients who had the procedure but did not have any behavioral intervention.

“From other areas of research, we know that going into surgery overly stressed may increase a patient’s recovery time. With this study, we wanted to intervene in the pre- and post-surgical setting and try to relieve stress and minimize mood disturbance, such as depression, anxiety and distress, both in the short- and long-term,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, professor in the departments of Behavioral Science and General Oncology, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center