Prostate cancer survival rates very high regardless of treatment, study finds

Prostate cancer survival rates very high regardless of treatment, study finds

More than half of men with prostate cancer do not need immediate treatment, a study has concluded. And men are choosing that option in greater numbers, given the prospect of erectile dysfunction, low energy and libido and changes in urinary and bowel function that can come with aggressive treatment.

Many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer do not know what treatment they should receive even though an authoritative organization with more than 20 experts has already recommended that men older than 70 are in no need for prostate cancer screening because even if they are diagnosed with the disease, treated or not, these men are more likely to die from other conditions or diseases. It kills about 30,000 a year.

"I can counsel patients better now", Dr. Freddie C. Hamdy, a leader of the study from the University of Oxford, in England, said in an interview. In the new study, 1,643 men diagnosed (via blood test) with localized prostate cancer who volunteered for the "ProtecT" clinical trial starting in 2001 were randomly assigned to one of three groups: active monitoring, surgery to remove the prostate, or radiation plus a short course of hormone-deprivation therapy.

"Many men will develop some form of prostate cancer that would not have caused harm in their lifetime - but might have unnecessary treatments as a result of screening that can have major side effects". Previous studies have not compared the most commonly used treatments in terms of mortality, disease progression and patient-reported outcomes.

"There is a very good chance of survival - 99 percent at a median of 10 years - and this is the same for all the groups. Yes, it is twice as much but it is much less than even I thought it would be".

Dr Mackie said the results of the study would "help guide men and their clinicians about treatment decisions when they have a small or localised prostate cancer". Instead, they should consider the effects of the treatment. They studied 1,643 patients in Britain ages 50-69 who had early prostate cancers, found with routine PSA testing and then a biopsy if the PSA was abnormal.

Just keeping an eye on prostate cancer results in the same 10-year survival rate as treating it, a study suggests.

Scardino said the findings helped confirm that active monitoring is a valuable approach for many men.

Prostate cancer has always been an exception in the cancer field.

For the ProtecT trial, led by researchers at the universities of Oxford and Bristol in nine United Kingdom centres, 82,429 men across the United Kingdom aged 50-69 were tested and 1,643 diagnosed with localised prostate cancer agreed to be randomised to active monitoring (545), radical prostatectomy (553) or radical radiotherapy (545) between 1999 and 2009.

The researchers tracked the men for a median - not an average - of 10 years.

Not surprisingly, this was more common among men who got no treatment but who were watched - 112 of them had their cancer progress, compared to 46 men in each of the other two groups.

The team also asked the men about side-effects. Sexual function also diminished after radiation, but recovered somewhat.

The UK researchers warned too many men were having procedures that damaged their sex life and caused incontinence.

"Statistically comparable with breast cancer, it is of vital importance that we increase our collective understanding about a disease that, when detected early, is more than 90 per cent treatable".

Dr. Peter T. Scardino, a prostate surgeon and chairman of the department of surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY who was not involved in the study, said the research was important because there was little previous data comparing surgery, radiation, and careful monitoring in men with early prostate cancer.

Clark Howard is one of them.

And if the cancer progresses or spreads beyond his prostate?

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: This test measures the level of PSA in the blood.

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