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Many Prostate Cancers Will Not Need Treatment
Date:2/13/2008

Major study finds most older men will die of other causes

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- One of the largest studies of its kind concludes that most older men with early prostate cancer do not shorten their survival odds if they adopt a "wait-and-see" approach to the disease.

In fact, most such patients will die of other causes or they simply won't develop any complications from the cancer, the researchers found.

"Many elderly men with lower risk cancer may do well with conservative management," concluded study author Grace Lu-Yau, a cancer epidemiologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and an associate professor at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and School of Public Health.

"Each patient facing a treatment decision has to ask himself what is the potential survival benefit of various treatments and the potential side effects of various treatments, then compare this potential risk of side effects with the potential risk of cancer complications if the cancer is left untreated -- and ask themselves which treatment option is their personal preference," Lu-Yau said.

She presented the findings to reporters at a special teleconference Tuesday, part of the 2008 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium taking place in San Francisco.

The question of whether to treat or not treat prostate cancer has long absorbed experts.

Although one in six men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, many of the malignancies are slow-growing, and there is currently no reliable way to identify which men will benefit from treatment. Better knowledge of the natural history of the disease (i.e., what happens without any treatment) would help guide treatment decisions, Lu-Yau said.

This study is one of the first to look at the natural history of prostate cancer since PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood testing has become commonplace. PSA tests can
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