Study Says Monitoring Low-Risk Prostate Cancer May Be Better Than Operating


Most patients in Sweden who are given the option of monitoring their low-risk prostate cancer versus undergoing treatment or surgery choose to monitor it, a new study has found. Researchers say that the outcomes are not negative and that this should be given as an option to American men as well.

More than 90 percent of men in Sweden diagnosed with a low-risk prostate cancer choose to undergo close monitoring rather than treatment. The study considered the records of 33,000 Swedish men with Stage T1 prostate cancer diagnosed between 2009 and 2014. The number choosing "active surveillance" (monitoring) rose from 57 percent to 91 percent in that time. The study was undertaken by researchers at New York University's Langone's Perlmutter Cancer center in New York City.

"There is no rush to get treatment.."

Dr. Stacy Loeb, assistant proessor in the departments of urology and population health at NYU and research lead for the study, says that there should be no rush to get treatment. Some men may need it eventually, but many can have several years of preserved quality of life without it.

In the U.S., however, active monitoring is often not given as an option. Most men choose to undergo treatment immediately for low-risk prostate cancer. This can have side-effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary problems. With active surveillance, the amount of physician's visits, blood testing, etc. is raised so that monitoring continues more closely, but no other steps are taken.

A recent British study, Dr. Loeb points out, found that 10 years after diagnosis, the risk of dying from prostate cancer was the same whether surgery was undertaken initially or monitoring was taken instead. The doctor hopes that the option is made more available to American patients.

the study was published in the journal JAMA Oncology.



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