Fleshner and his colleagues hailed the new emphasis on prevention. The arrival of even more helpful prevention information might be just around the corner, they said.
"What's exciting now is that there's no doubt any longer that prostate disease is preventable," said Fleshner. "This will not necessarily translate into improved mortality rates, because it may be that we will be able to prevent more low-grade disease than high-grade."
But many men with low-grade disease currently undergo surgery and other treatments that can impact their quality of life, he noted. "So, even if we are able to reduce just the need for unnecessary treatment, this will be a good step," Fleshner said.
Not everyone shares that optimism, however.
Dr. Nelson Neal Stone, a clinical professor of urology and radiation oncology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, believes that when it comes to preventing prostate cancer, "we're still sort of at a loss."
"Today, you can't really advise a patient to do anything to prevent prostate cancer," he said. "The best study so far -- the PCPT study-- did show a 25 percent drop in prostate cancer, but that was in low-grade tumors, whereas the incidence of high-grade tumors may actually have gone up. And a lot of the dietary factors that showed promise --vitamins, selenium -- have come into question as to whether they're really helping patients."
"So, I would agree that in five year's time, we will probably come up with strategies to reduce the clinical incidence of the disease in terms of detecting low-grade cancer," he added. "But that doesn't have much meaning in a patient's life. What has meaning is the
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