Prostate Cancer Sufferers – Study Shows Doing Nothing Is The Same As Treating It
Prostate cancer is a rising problem in America. It is estimated that there will be 180,000 new diagnoses of this cancer in the United States this year, and almost 15% of these patients will die. But if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may want to hold off on starting any type of aggressive treatment. Why?
A recent decade-long study out of the United Kingdom, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has suggested that aggressive treatment of this disease does not automatically lead to a better outcome. In fact, it may be better to do nothing at all.
Usually, prostate cancer patients have to make a choice. The choices are typically: an active monitoring and no treatment approach (because this cancer is slow growing and usually doesn’t present with difficult symptoms until much later), surgery to remove the gland, or radiotherapy targeted at the tumors.
Over 1500 prostate cancer patients from the UK agreed to participate in this study. During the study, the men agreed to received randomized treatments of the three most common prostate cancer treatments. These men were between the ages of 50 to 69 and were not classed further in to any groups based on their tumors.
The UK study concluded that those who selected the more aggressive treatments were more able to prevent their cancer from spreading. However, along with those aggressive therapies came some nasty side effects such as recovery from surgery, loss of sexual function, bowel and urinary incontinence and even serious cardiovascular health problems.
On the other hand, those who adopted the active monitoring approach and did nothing else, had as good of a chance of survival after 10 years, as well as better quality of life, compared to those who chose the aggressive approach.
The interesting thing is that it seemed that no matter which direction the men took for prostate cancer treatment, they were unlikely to die from the cancer or the treatments for the cancer after a decade.
This certainly shows that drastic measures should be reserved for only the most severe of cases. The key to using this discovery is certainly to finding the best ways to identify those who would most benefit from surgery or radiation, rather than using those two approaches as a general cure-all.