Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Actively monitoring prostate cancer can be safe alternative to surgery or radiation, study says

Good news has been released for men seeking to avoid prostate cancer treatment-related sexual and incontinence problems.

According to an Associated Press story by Carla K. Johnson a while back, it appears that most men can hold off on treatments because actively monitoring the disease is a safe alternative to surgery or radiation.

Dr. Stacy Loeb
Long-term evidence supporting that conclusion was confirmed, the piece notes, by Dr. Stacy Loeb, prostate cancer specialist at NYU Langone Health who was not involved in the research. 

It has long been known that most prostate cancer grows very slowly.

The story quotes Loeb as saying that a recent study's findings indicate that "there was no difference in prostate mortality at 15 years" between those who had surgery to remove tumors, those who had radiation treatment, and those who monitored.

The survival rate for all three groups was 97% — "also very good news," Loeb says.

Results of the study, funded by Britain's National Institute for Health and Care Research, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Freddie Hamdy of the University of Oxford, was quoted to the effect that men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer should "consider carefully the possible benefits and harms caused by the treatment options" — and not rush their decisions or panic, despite the fact that a small number of men with high-risk or more advanced disease do need urgent treatments.

Dr. Freddie Hamdy

Researchers, Johnson's story says, "followed more than 1,600 U.K. men who agreed to be randomly assigned to get surgery, radiation, or active monitoring."

The study began on 1999, a time when monitoring practices were not as good as now (when MRI imaging and gene tests can be employed before informed decisions are made). 

"We have more ways now to help catch that the disease is progressing before it spreads," the AP story quoted Loeb as saying.

More information about the multiple facets of research can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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