Most Prostate Cancer Treatments Unnecessary and Harmful
June 10, 2006
Treatments for prostate cancer such as surgery to remove the prostate gland or radiotherapy may not be necessary for most men diagnosed with a low-grade of the disease.
While prostate cancer treatments can result in serious side effects, including incontinence and impotence, a modeling study by researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in England found that men whose cancer is detected early by a PSA screening are not likely to die from the disease.
The study predicted that men between the ages of 55 and 59 with low-grade cancer have a one in 100 chance of dying from the disease within 15 years, even when no treatment was received. So treatments are not likely to prolong survival in these cases.
The PSA test, which measures levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by the prostate gland, allows doctors to detect prostate cancer earlier.
The researchers are testing a new technique for prostate cancer called Active Surveillance, which will help ensure that treatment is given only to men who will benefit. Men who have high-grade, advanced, prostate cancer, for instance, would likely benefit from treatments.