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Prostate Cancer Group Issues Call to Action

Better Diagnosis, Treatments Needed as Baby Boomers Enter High-Risk Years
WebMD Health News

Sept. 23, 2004 -- Far too many men with prostate cancer make treatment decisions without fully understanding their options, but better coordination among specialists who treat the disease could minimize the confusion, suggest two dozen researchers in a new report.

Improving communication among urologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists could significantly affect treatment outcomes at all stages of the disease, says a spokesman for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, which released the report Wednesday.

With the exception of the nation's top prostate cancer treatment centers, this multidisciplinary approach is rarely seen, Prostate Cancer Foundation Vice President of Biopharmaceutical Research Gregg Britt tells WebMD.

"Only a small percentage of patients are treated at these centers, so this is a significant problem," Britt says. "It is hard enough given the volume of medical information coming out on prostate cancer for specialists to stay current in their own field, let alone to know what is happening across three separate disciplines."

Other Highlights

Britt says the 80-page report was written as a comprehensive overview of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment research and will be distributed to every doctor in the nation treating prostate cancer patients.

Other major goals highlighted in the report include:

  • The identification of better methods of diagnosing prostate cancer. Recent reports have questioned the value of prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening among asymptomatic men, with several concluding that the widely used test has led to overtreatment of the disease.
  • Finding better ways to distinguish between fast-growing prostate cancers that require aggressive treatment and slow-growing cancers that may need no treatment at all.
  • Providing better information about treatment options to the more than 200,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. each year. Men with localized disease often face uncertain decisions about whether to have surgery, radiotherapy, other treatments, or no treatment at all without enough information on potential long-term side effects.

The Latest Research

Determining which patients need treatment and which ones do not is of special importance due to the growing number of American men approaching their second half-century of life. Most prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 50, but late-life cancers also tend to grow more slowly than those occurring in younger men.

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