Objective: Side effects of cancer treatment have been found to have a significant impact on patients' psychological well-being. Each of the primary treatment options for prostate cancer is associated with significant side effects that can have a dramatic impact on quality of life. Hot flashes are a notable side effect of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and a potential source of distress due to their episodic nature and low frequency in a normal aging male population. The current study sought to examine the relationship between hot flashes and cancer-related distress during the first three months of ADT.
Methods: Participants were 68 men with various stages of prostate cancer scheduled to begin ADT for the first time. Study measures were completed at the beginning of treatment and 3 months later.
Results: Repeated measures ANOVA indicated that men who did not experience hot flashes had a significant decrease in total cancer-related distress and avoidance over the 3-month period, while men with hot flashes exhibited no change in distress. Among men with hot flashes, results of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that a worse experience with hot flashes was a significant predictor of greater increases in intrusion and total cancer-related distress over the 3-month period.
Conclusions: These results suggest that hot flashes serve to maintain levels of distress during the treatment period. Further research should extend these findings by lengthening the follow-up period and using ecological momentary assessment to refine measurement of these constructs and provide evidence for the direction of causality between hot flashes and distress. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.