When you or a loved one is diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’ll want answers. How advanced is the cancer, is it metastatic, what are the available treatment options? What sort of effects will accompany the different treatments? And perhaps most important, what are the chances of survival?
I know, these are the sorts of questions we had when my father-in-law was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and they are the answers he needed in order to form a treatment plan with his doctor.
New research answers some questions
A new long term Scandinavian study funded in part by the Swedish Cancer Society took a closer look at outcomes over more than 23 years for men diagnosed with localized, high risk prostate cancer. In particular, the researchers compared the outcomes for men who underwent radical prostatectomy versus those whose doctors engaged in “watchful waiting.”
The men who took part in the study all had specific types of cancers, and were not simply a population collected via random screening. These men each had high risk cancers, similar to those with PSA levels of 13 or higher in the United States. Their cancers were also localized, and not metastatic.
After more than two decades of observation, the men who opted for radical prostatectomy had a significantly lower risk of dying from prostate cancer than those who opted for watchful waiting. The men who underwent prostatectomy also had a 25 percent lower tendency to require androgen deprivation therapy.
A complex decision
With several treatment options available for most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, information like that provided in the Scandinavian study gives just one piece of the puzzle patients and doctors will need to consider. As mentioned above, this particular study focused on men with a particular type of cancer, and the results may not be applicable to men with lower risk cancers or those whose cancers are metastatic.
Even for men with similar cancers, the risks of surgery and other factors must be taken into consideration. Deciding upon a course of treatment for any cancer is a very complex decision, and one that is often quite specific to the individual patient.
However, this new research may be quite informative to doctors and patients who must decide how to do battle with a high risk, localized prostate cancer like the ones followed in the study.
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