A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that more than half of the American men who have their prostate cancer treated with surgery or radiation might have been just as well off using a “wait and see” program. As reported by Forbes, the researchers are now looking for a method to best determine which patients should be in which treatment group.
The study looked at the records of more than 64,000 American men. Researchers divided their cases into either high-risk or low-risk cancers and noted that more than half of the low-risk men had undergone radiation or surgery in the first months following diagnosis. This study is important because, in many cases, those in the low-risk group experienced side-effects from radiation therapy or surgery that may not have been necessary. Additionally, developing a better method of determining which men are either most likely or least likely to die of their prostate cancer, regardless of treatment, will help doctors keep their patients better informed about their health.
Patients are currently tracked by physicians using a “Gleason Score,” which looks at how the cancerous prostate cells appear under a microscope, a standard prostate-specific antigen blood test score, ultrasound examinations, and biopsy reports.
This year, an estimated 234,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 27,350 will die from it. The American Cancer Society has useful information about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment.