NEW YORK, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new prostate cancer study published in the New England Journal of Medicine comparing surgical treatment to "watchful waiting" revealed important findings for patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and currently debating their treatment options.
Two of the most commonly offered clinical options for early prostate cancer treatment today are "watchful waiting" and radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the entire prostate gland). Watchful waiting refers to the doctor and patient's decision to "wait and see" and to avoid immediate definitive treatment for the prostate cancer. The logic behind this approach is that many patients die of causes other than prostate cancer, and the disease often progresses slowly. Surgical removal of the prostate, or radical prostatectomy, is a more definitive primary treatment. The entire gland is removed, along with the entire cancer.
After following patients for approximately 15 years after treatment, the New England Journal study found that patients under 65 years, and particularly those with low risk prostate cancer, who underwent prostatectomy had a 38% lower risk of death from prostate cancer compared to their watchful waiting counterparts. The surgery patients also had a lower rate of metastasis, or spreading of the cancer to distant sites. These results were even seen among patients with low risk cancer, a groundbreaking finding that had never before been demonstrated this conclusively.
"This has been the subject of much debate and it's encouraging to see there is validity in aggressive prostate cancer treatment in men below 65, and even those with low risk cancer, rather than waiting for the disease to get worse," said robotic prostate surgery expert Dr. David Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "Nerve-sparing robotic prostatectomy is wonderful option for patients because it not only cures them of cancer, but also preserves their sexual and urinary function so they can be cancer-free and maintain a high quality of life."
In the past, some have argued that robotic prostatectomy may be an unnecessary treatment option for men with low risk prostate cancer. This study presents a cogent and convincing argument against such claims, since it was particularly younger men with low risk cancer who demonstrated the mortality benefit after undergoing surgery. Furthermore, younger men also hold up very well against surgical complications because of their age, and if operated on robotically, can likely return home after a single night's hospital stay.
"This study demonstrates what I've thought all along," says Dr. Samadi, "No matter what your age, prostate cancer is not a death sentence. So instead of accepting the disease and living with it, we can now easily remove it and you can go on to enjoy a satisfying life for years to come."
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