Prostate cancer treatment sometimes too aggressive

By Tom Nordlie • Published: December 17th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You know the old football saying… “the best defense is a good offense.”

Some doctors apply that strategy to treating prostate cancer.

They believe it’s best to attack tumors immediately.

But a study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine says a strong offense may be the wrong approach for low-risk tumors.

The prostate is a small organ that men have in the pelvic area. It’s important to reproductive functions.

If screening and testing confirm that a man has a prostate tumor, his doctor must recommend a course of action.

Two aggressive treatment options are radiation therapy and surgery.

Both can have adverse effects.

In the study, researchers wanted to know how often those treatments were used in low-risk cases.

They reviewed data from one-hundred-twenty-four-thousand prostate cancer patients ages twenty-five and up.

More than half the patients had low-risk cases.

Nonetheless, doctors often pursued aggressive treatment.

For example, two-thirds of the low-risk patients ages sixty-five through seventy-four were treated with radiation or surgery.

For the other third, doctors prescribed a more conservative strategy… monitoring the cancer for signs of growth or spreading.

The monitoring can lead to aggressive treatment later, if it’s warranted.

The authors said doctors should consider monitoring for low-risk cases, especially with older patients.

It’s important to know this management approach exists, because prostate cancer is a serious health threat.

In the U-S it strikes one in six men and causes thirty-two-thousand deaths a year.

So men of all ages need to understand their options.

They also need to see the doctor for regular checkups.

That’s another great defense against prostate cancer.