Mindful that, sometimes, the treatment can be almost as hard as having the disease, a recent Swedish study demonstrated the advantages of watchful waiting as an alternative for doctors and their patients to handle low-risk (slow growth) or intermediate cases of prostate cancer, particularly for older men and those experiencing other serious health problems.
Researchers compared the long-term health and treatment choices of nearly 7,000 Swedish men with prostate cancer (younger than age 71). Of the 2,021 patients who opted for watchful waiting, 19.2 percent in the watchful waiting group died from competing causes -- reasons other than prostate cancer -- versus those in the radiation (10.9 percent) and prostatectomy (6.8 percent) groups.
Although the risk of death due to prostate cancer was higher among patients in the surveillance group than those who chose prostatectomy, the difference in risk between the two groups over a decade-long follow-up period was a small 1.2 percent.
Which reminds us to remind the men in your lives that stressing out about prostate cancer can be very bad for their health.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute June 18, 2010 Free Full Text Study
EurekAlert June 18, 2010
Bloomberg Businessweek June 18, 2010