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

men who underwent aggressive treatment for prostate cancer, only 16 percent who had no other health problems died of other causes after 10 years.

In contrast, 35 percent of men who also had diabetes died of causes not related to their cancer after 10 years. Meanwhile, the study showed 50 percent of diabetic men who had organ damage related to the condition died within that time frame for reasons not cancer-related.

Similarly, 49 percent of men who also had peripheral vascular disease who were treated for their cancer were dead within 10 years, and 65 percent of men with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also died. In both of those situations, the men died for reasons not related to cancer, according to the findings published in the Sept. 21 online edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"I think some physicians may think that a man with only one co-morbid condition is healthier than he may in fact be," said Chamie. "Some patients, even those with just a single co-morbid condition, might benefit from surveillance, as they may die as a result of other causes before their prostate cancer and avoid being exposed to some of the debilitating side effects of treatments."

In taking the age of the men into account, however, the study revealed that only about 25 percent of 75-year-olds were being treated for their prostate cancer -- even though they had a 58 percent chance of surviving another decade.

"This study suggests that while physicians use patient age of 75 as a very strong cue to avoid overtreatment of men with prostate cancer, they are less likely to integrate certain co-morbidities into prostate cancer decision making," concluded Dr. Mark S. Litwin, chairman of the urology department and a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, in the release. "There are some medical conditions that portend a poor prognosis and should therefore be taken into consideration in the decisi
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