included on 44,630 men, aged 65 to 80, who were diagnosed between 1991-1999, with prostate cancer and had survived more than a year after diagnosis. All patients were followed-up until death or December 31st, 2002, the end of the study. Of the 44,630 men, 32,022 (71.8 percent) were actively treated with either surgery or radiation therapy during the first six months after diagnosis. The remaining group of 12,608 (28.3 percent) were classified as having received "observation" and did not undergo surgery, radiation or hormonal therapy.
During the 12-years of follow-up, researchers found that the patients who received treatment had a 31 percent lower risk of death. In the observation-only group, 37 percent of the patients died whereas only 23.8 percent of those in the treatment group died.
Since this was not a randomized, controlled study but a retrospective analysis of existing data, the researches had to perform extensive statistical adjustments to account for study participants differences. Even with all these differences taken into account, there was still a significant improvement in the overall survival of those men who received active treatment. "This benefit was also seen across the board in all subgroups examined, including African-American men and older men aged 75-80 at diagnosis," added Armstrong. "However, as we summarized in the study, because observational data can never completely adjust for potential selection bias and confounding, our results must be validated by rigorous randomized controlled trials of elderly men with localized prostate cancer before the findings can be used to influence treatment decisions."
Source:University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
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