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Survival Improves for Prostate Cancer

Study Shows Improvements in Death Rate for Men Who Choose Not to Have Surgery or Radiation

Watchful Waiting continued...

The average age of the men in her study at diagnosis was 78.

Along with colleagues at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Lu-Yao examined outcomes among the men who were followed for a median of 8.3 years.

All the men had early-stage prostate cancers and none had surgery or radiation within six months of diagnosis.

Men with early-stage, good to moderate prognosis disease were six times more likely to die of some other cause than their prostate cancer.

The death rate from prostate cancer within a decade of diagnosis was around 25% without surgery or radiation among patients with the most aggressive disease characteristics.

Quantifying Risk

American Cancer Society Director of Prostate and Colorectal Cancers Durado Brooks, MD, says the new study helps to quantify outcomes among men who forgo surgery or radiation in the PSA era.

"We can now show older men with good prognosis, localized disease that they have a much lower chance of dying from their prostate cancer than something else within a decade of diagnosis," he tells WebMD. "That is extremely useful information for patients and their doctors when they are trying to make treatment decisions."

Fox Chase Cancer Center urologic surgeon Richard E. Greenberg, MD, tells WebMD that many older patients who may be candidates for watchful waiting may still see surgery or radiation as preferable to intense surveillance.

"Watching patients is not a benign or inexpensive process," he says. "Most patients have PSA tests done every three months and a biopsy performed at least once a year."

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