Psychological needs when diagnosed with testicular cancer: findings from a population-based study with long-term follow-up

Authors


Correspondence: Johanna Skoogh, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Box 500, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.

e-mail: johanna.skoogh@oncology.gu.se

Abstract

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

  • There are few large-scale follow-up studies regarding psychological reactions among men diagnosed with testicular cancer; therefore, our knowledge is sparse about the psychological consequences of being diagnosed with and treated for testicular cancer. Moreover, we know little about what kind of psychological support the men would prefer and benefit from.
  • Our study shows that most patients with testicular cancer, regardless of the seriousness of the disease, experience a psychological crisis at diagnosis. Furthermore, we found that most men wish that psychological support, including information about stress and crises reactions and psychological counselling, was offered at diagnosis. Our study highlights the need not only to provide patients with testicular cancer with the best physical treatment but also to take into account the psychological consequences of being diagnosed and offer the men psychological support.

Objective

  • To investigate the psychological needs of patients diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Patients and Methods

  • We identified 1192 eligible men diagnosed with non-seminomatous testicular cancer, treated according to the bi-national cancer-care programmes SWENOTECA I–IV between 1981 and 2004.
  • Using a study-specific questionnaire we asked the survivors if they had experienced some kind of crisis attributable to their cancer diagnosis. We also asked if they were and, if not, if they wish they had been offered information about crisis and stress reactions and professional counselling.

Results

  • We obtained information from 974/1192 (82%) testicular cancer survivors diagnosed at a mean of 11 years before follow-up.
  • Sixty-three percent reported that they had experienced a crisis owing to their diagnosis. For most men (76%) the crisis was at its worst at the time of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Between 1981 and 2004, 145 men (15%) reported that they received information about common stress and crisis reactions and 348 (36%) reported that they were offered counselling.
  • Of the men not informed about stress and crisis reactions and not offered counselling, 353/514 (69%) and 251/403 (62%), respectively, wish they had been. The percentage who reported that they wish that they had been informed or offered counselling did not differ significantly depending on civil status, age at diagnosis or stage of disease.

Conclusions

  • The vast majority of Swedish testicular cancer survivors reported that they experienced a crisis because of their cancer diagnosis.
  • Moreover, regardless of stage of disease, most men reported a need for psychological support at the time of diagnosis and treatment that was not satisfactorily met by the healthcare provision.

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