Lu-Yau and her colleagues looked at data on more than 9,000 men with Stage I or II prostate cancer diagnosed between 1992 and 2002 who did not undergo treatment. The mean age of participants was 77 years.
Seventy-two percent of these men died of other causes or didn't have enough cancer progression to warrant surgery or radiation, the researchers found. For the remaining 2,675 men who did receive treatment, the median time between diagnosis and start of therapy was more than 10 years.
Not surprisingly, men with less aggressive disease survived longer than those with more aggressive tumors.
"For elderly men with localized prostate cancer, the potential survival benefit for treatment is most likely modest, therefore it is very critical to weigh the risk of having side effects of various treatments with the risk of developing cancer-related complications down the road," Lu-Yau said. "The majority of patients will die of other causes or remain alive without significant major complications."
A second study presented at the conference found that giving salvage radiation therapy (SRT) to men whose PSA levels rise after having their prostate removed can reduce their risk of dying from the cancer by more than 60 percent.
SRT is typically given only after a recurrence, not after an initial diagnosis of prostate cancer, noted study lead author Dr. Bruce Trock, associate professor of urology, epidemiology, oncology and environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Existing studies have either not been large enough or long enough in duration to determine if SRT prolongs survival.
In this retrospective analysis of 635 men who had experienced a recurrence after having their prostate removed, 62 percent of those who did not receive any salvage therapy were still alive after 10 years, versu
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