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With Early-Stage Prostate Cancer Treatment, Older Men Live Longer

“Watch and Wait” – a usual statement – often recommended by the doctors to the older patients with early stages of Prostate Cancer. But now a new study by researchers at Fox// Chase Cancer Center and University of Pennsylvania finds that older men with early-stage prostate cancer live longer if the disease is treated with radiation or surgery instead of simply waiting and watching.

Researchers have found that patients (aged 65 to 80) who were treated had more than 30% lower risk of death during the 12 years they were tracked than those who did nothing. Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer affecting most of the men in United States and increasing number of cases are being diagnosed as it can be easily detected by a blood test.

The study results were based on the medical records of more than 44,000 men, who were diagnosed with the disease between 1991 and 1999 and who had survived more than a year past diagnosis. The study ended at the end of 2002. The results were published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. However the report added that: “These results must be validated by rigorous randomized controlled trials of elderly men with localized prostate cancer before the findings can be used to inform treatment decisions.”

Mark Litwin and David Miller, two physicians at University of California, Los Angeles, noted that the findings of this study are preliminary, while commenting on the study in an editorial of the same issue.

They also advised that Doctors must remain steadfast in their efforts to reduce over-treatment and under-treatment by thoughtfully defining each patient's unique balance between the natural history of prostate cancer and that individual patient's life expectancy.

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