According to the latest study, the advice to detect and treat cancers at the first opportunity may not apply to older men with prostate tumors.
With a government-backed group advising that most men no longer need regular screening for prostate cancer with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, researchers now say that older men who are diagnosed with the disease should not always get surgery or radiation treatment.
That’s because for most men, having a low to moderate risk of prostate cancer is not a major red flag for early death. The cancer is typically so slow-growing, that many of these men will die from other causes, which means the benefits of treatment do not always outweigh the risks. Surgery, radiation and radioactive seed implants can cause disorders such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. And since it can take many years for the effects of the treatments to emerge, the survival advantage is low in most cases in which the tumors aren’t aggressive.
In the new study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, led by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Department of Urology looked at the 14-year survival of 3,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between the years 1994 and 1995. Older men with low to intermediate cases of prostate cancer, who also had at least three other health problems like diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and arthritis, were significantly more likely to die from a cause unrelated to their cancer.
This 10-year risk of perishing from these other will cause among men aged sixty one to 74 was 40%, and also for men over 80, it climbed to 71%. This 14-year risk of perishing from low or advanced risk prostate cancer had been 3% for men in between 61 and 74, and also 7% among men in excess of 75. For men along with high-risk prostate cancer, the risk of death from the cancer was 18% in the 14-year mark.
“The acquire point from this review is that older adult men with multiple underlying health issues should carefully consider whether they should treat these cancers aggressively, because that treatment includes a price, ” said guide study author Dr. Timothy Daskivich, a UCLA Robert Wood Johnson fellow in the statement.
Determining which varieties of prostate cancer are aggressive and that happen to be of lower risk can be becoming easier. Earlier this specific month, TIME’s Alice Park covered a new genetic test for identifying probably the most agressive forms of prostate cancers. She explains:
Watchful waiting is often a common strategy for treating prostate cancer, since in about 40% regarding cases the tumors are so slow-growing which they don’t require additional, invasive biopsies or therapy and men with the cancer will die of other will cause.
But based on analyses of tissue from men whose prostates were surgically removed as a precaution even if they were deemed to be low-risk, anywhere from 15% to 20% of these low-risk cases actually turn out to involve tumors that were more aggressive. As a result, the tumors were mischaracterized by available predictive methods such as the blood-based prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and imaging to search for hidden growths.
As these types of tests become more available, it may be possible to help more men avoid unnecessary surgery, and the complications that could come along with those procedures, say the study authors. The added information should also help patients with peace of mind in knowing that their “watching waiting” strategy is the right one, as contrary as it may seem when it comes to cancer.
, reports that older prostate cancer patients, who have other underlying health conditions, should reconsider undergoing surgical or radiation treatments for prostate cancer.