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Men Who Have Prostate Cancer Surgery Do Well
Date:7/27/2009

But study didn't determine value of any treatment vs. watchful waiting

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- A major study has good news for men who have prostate cancer surgery but leaves unanswered the complicated question of whether a man should have that operation, another treatment or just watchful waiting.

The study of almost 13,000 American men who had a radical prostatectomy -- surgical removal of a cancerous prostate gland -- between 1987 and 2005 found that only 12 percent of them died of the cancer, according to the report in the July 27 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Patients with what we thought of as high-risk prostate cancer had a much lower risk of dying of their cancers than we ever thought," said Dr. Peter T. Scardino, chairman of the department of surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and a member of the research team. "Patients with more favorable prostate cancers did remarkably well, so well that you have to begin to question whether they should have been treated."

The choice of surgery, radiation therapy or watchful waiting must be made each year for more than 190,000 American men, most middle-aged or older, who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Most choose some kind of treatment, said Dr. Andrew Stephenson, head of urological oncology at the Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, and another member of the research team. From 40 percent to 50 percent choose surgery, about 10 percent choose watchful waiting, and the rest choose some form of radiation therapy, Stephenson said.

For men who have surgery, the new research has produced a tool that can allow them to predict their chance of survival for at least 15 years, Scardino said. Survival is measured by essentially three elements: the clinical stage of the cancer when it is detected, determined in great part by how large it is; the Gleason score, a measure of how much of its norm
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