Prostate Cancer: Tracking May Be Better Than Treatment
Tracking prostate cancer and treating it only when the offending tumor begins to grow may be the best new option for men with low-risk cancer. According to the Associated Press, the National Institutes of Health have started to advocate “active surveillance” in these cases because the risk of the disease developing into life-threatening cancer is miniscule.
The risk for men with this type of early-stage cancer is so low, in fact, the group wants it stripped of the name “cancer.” The small tumors rarely develop into life-threatening conditions and the National Institutes of Health believe the best option may just be to wait. The group even appointed a panel monitoring the “tracking” treatment, with 100,000 men participating every year.
During active surveillance, men receive regular scans, blood tests and biopsies to check the status of the tumor. Doing so allows the men to get quick treatment if they end up needing it.
“It’s not treatment versus no treatment,” said Peter Carroll of the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s about timing of treatment.”
The benefits of waiting for treatment include avoiding immediate surgery or radiation, which carry risks such as impotence or incontinence. There is also no strong evidence that immediate treatment increases life expectancy, the AP said. One study tracked 731 men with early-stage prostate cancer over the period of 10 years, and found no difference in survival rates between men who underwent surgery and those who opted for an active surveillance method.