Better to Wait, Not Immediately Treat Prostate Cancer?

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According to a new study, older men with low-risk prostate cancer may be better off watching the tumor closely instead of immediately treating it for most effective results.

In order to come to their conclusions, researchers studied over 650 male subjects of an average age of 66. In most cases, these men were able to go nearly five years without treatment for their cancer.

As written in the report featured in the Journal of Clinical Oncology:

"The underlying problem is that we're over-treating prostate cancer because we don't have a perfect method of identifying those people that will never be harmed by their cancer," said Dr. H. Ballentine Carter, professor of urology and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

"In general, the vast number of (prostate) cancers are of the slow-growing variety that a person could live with for years," Carter, who co-authored the study, told Reuters Health.

The biggest reason that men can now wait so long to get treated despite being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be attributed to new cancer screenings for the disease. As a result of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, specialists are finding the problem quicker than ever before – and diagnosing it accordingly.

When all was said and done, about a third of the men involved in the study underwent treatment for the cancer. The vast majority, however, delayed it for two years. Many others delayed it for five years. In the end, there was no deaths resulting from prostate cancer in the study.