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Otherwise Healthy Older Men Undertreated for Prostate Cancer: Study
Date:9/29/2011

THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Men over 75 with prostate cancer who are otherwise healthy are being undertreated for their condition, according to a new study.

Meanwhile, younger men with prostate cancer who are affected by other health problems -- or "co-morbid" conditions -- are being treated for their cancer, but not responding as well as expected, University of California, Los Angeles researchers found.

"This study suggests that men with certain medical conditions are being treated just as aggressively for their prostate cancer as men who are healthy, even though they are more likely to die of non-prostate cancer causes. Conversely, men over 75 are not being aggressively treated when they may, in fact, fare better than younger men with complicating health issues," the study's first author, Dr. Karim Chamie, a postdoctoral fellow in urologic oncology and health services research, said in a UCLA news release.

"There are individual medical problems that impact survival much more so than simply being 75 years of age," Chamie added.

In conducting the study, the researchers examined the medical records of more than 1,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer who were being treated at a federally subsidized Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The researchers specifically chose the VA hospital in order to eliminate speculation that treatment decisions were also bottom-line cost decisions. "This really speaks to the underlying psychology of physicians and how they manage patients with prostate cancer," Chamie explained in the news release.

Although men with prostate cancer who were also being treated for another co-existing medical issue (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and peripheral vascular disease) had lower survival rates than other men, their cancer was treated just as aggressively, the investigators found.

The study revealed that of the roughly two-thirds of
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