By Lola Augustine Brown
Men with prostate cancer may do better not being treated, says a study just published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study looked at 545 men over a 10-year period, documenting the outcomes of monitoring, radiotherapy, and surgery, for localized prostate cancer. Key findings of this study were that survival rates for men with prostate cancer are very high overall because prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease; even without treatment, the disease may never progress to the point at which it kills you.
Why wouldn’t you want to treat the disease? Treatments are invasive, incredibly stressful, and often carry side effects such as sexual dysfunction, incontinence, anxiety, and fatigue. Given that the likelihood is you’ll die of something else before prostate cancer, people with a diagnosis might well question whether treatment is necessary.
The Canadian Cancer Society has an enlightening page of prostate cancer statistics that back up much of what this research discusses, so while not everything in this study is new, it does confirm what other research has shown and add to a growing body of evidence regarding how, and when, doctors should intervene.