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Surgery May Help Some Prostate Cancer Patients

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 1:15 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Prostate Cancer, Cancer, Mens Health, Protecting Your Family


IMAGE SOURCE: © WikiMedia Commons/ Created by US government agency National Cancer Institute

The dispute about aggressive treatment advantages versus "watchful waiting" in prostate cancer patients is ongoing following the results of a decade long European study.

Researchers at the Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group found that survival rates seen in men who had their prostate surgically removed disappeared after ten years.

While deaths attributed to the disease lowered among those who had a prostatectomy (prostate removal), there was no significant difference seen in the death rates between both groups.

It is uncertain what the findings mean for men that are newly diagnosed with the disease, because the study started before the use of prostate-specific antigen screening (PSA), a blood test that is primarily used to detect prostate cancer in the early stages, said Dr. Yu-Ning Wong, an oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men in the U.S., after skin cancer, and the second leading cause of death from cancer in the country, which affects one in six men in the United States.

At this time there is no way to discern a cancer that will grow rapidly enough to become fatal or slowly enough to pose no risk of death.

Another recent study, in the Annuals of Medicine, added further fuel to the controversy that has been surrounding PSA testing for years when researchers advised against regular prostate screenings in men 75 and older saying the risks far outweigh the benefits for the men in that age group.

A definitive answer to solve the dispute - whether aggressive treatment or watchful waiting is preferable - is likely years away. A controlled trial is planned for the United States and one is currently underway in Europe.

In the meantime, watchful waiting versus the option of aggressive treatment options should remain individually for each patient.

The study is published in the Aug. 12 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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