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Prostate Cancer Group Issues Call to Action

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

The Latest Research continued...

A recent report illustrated why overtreatment is of such concern. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that the majority of patients remain impotent five years after having either radiation or surgery. A significant percentage of the patients in the study also had long-lasting urinary or bowel problems.

Another recent study suggested that a rapid elevation in PSA level over a relatively short period of time may be a better indicator of clinically meaningful prostate cancer than a single PSA reading.

The NCI is evaluating the merits of PSA screening in a study involving 75,000 men, but results are not expected for five years. Another major study is under way among men with elevated PSAs comparing surgery to no treatment.

"There is growing funding for prostate cancer research, and much of it is heading in the right direction," American Cancer Society Director of Prostate Cancer Durado Brooks, MD, tells WebMD. "But unfortunately, because of the complexity of this disease -- the fact that it is slow growing and mostly occurs in an older population -- it is difficult to get a handle on. It is not likely that we will have useful answers for several years."

Brooks says the report should be of value to clinicians treating prostate cancer because it gives them easy access to the latest research.

"Prostate cancer treatment decisions have to be made on a patient-by-patient basis, and the more information everyone has, the better," he says. "Some men are very uncomfortable with the idea of having cancer in their body, while others may be OK with watching blood tests for a while."

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