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Age, Other Illnesses May Make Prostate Cancer Treatment Unnecessary
Date:5/21/2013

TUESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Aggressive treatment for prostate cancer may not be warranted for many older patients with underlying medical conditions, a new study finds.

Treatments for prostate cancer, such as surgery, radiation and radioactive seed implants, can cause serious side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and bowel problems, explained researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

They found that older patients with slower growing forms of prostate cancer who have at least three other health problems are more likely to die of something other than cancer. The findings might help educate patients on the risks and benefits of treatment, the team said.

"For men with low- to intermediate-risk disease, prostate cancer is an indolent [slow-growing] disease that doesn't pose a major risk to survival," study author Timothy Daskivich said in a university news release. "The take home point from this study is that older men with multiple underlying health problems should carefully consider whether they should treat these tumors aggressively, because that treatment comes with a price," said Daskivich, who is Robert Wood Johnson fellow at UCLA.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the 14-year survival outcomes of 3,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1994 and 1995. Within six months of their diagnosis, the men completed surveys to document any other medical conditions they had.

Daskivich's team focused on older patients with three or more underlying health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and/or arthritis.

They found the 10-year risk of dying from something other than prostate cancer for men aged 61 to 74 was 40 percent, and the 14-year risk of dying from low or intermediate risk prostate cancer was only 3 percent.

For men older than 75, the 10-year risk of dying from something other than cancer wa
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