Many prostate cancers grow too slowly to kill
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A large 15-year study of men who had surgery for prostate cancer found only a small percentage died from cancer, adding to evidence that some men might be able to skip radical surgery to treat the often slow-growing tumors, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
The study of more than 12,600 men with prostate cancer who had their prostates removed found only 12 percent died from cancer 15 years later, even though some showed signs of having an aggressive type of cancer.
Many more men -- 38 percent -- died from causes other than cancer.
The study "shows a remarkably low risk of dying of prostate cancer within 15 years for treated men, and supports the concept that men with slow-growing cancers may not need immediate treatment," said Dr. Peter Scardino of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, whose study appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide after lung cancer, killing 254,000 men a year globally.
Doctors have routinely recommended prostate cancer screening for men over 50 using a blood test for prostate specific antigen, or PSA. The belief was that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment for any cancer is better than standing by and doing nothing.
But many prostate tumors are slow-growing and take years to cause harm. Some studies suggest many men are living with the side-effects of aggressive treatment with surgery and radiation for a cancer that may never have killed them.
"Our results demonstrate the low lethality of these cancers after radical prostatectomy," Scardino and colleagues wrote. Continued...