Results of a recent U.S. study question the strategy of "cautious waiting" in elderly patients with prostate cancer
In men over the age of 65 who have localized prostate cancer, radiation or surgical removal of the prostate increases average life expectancy by about three years.
This is the conclusion of a large American study of almost 49,000 men between the ages of 65 and 80, which was recently presented at a prostate cancer symposium in San Francisco. The study included patients who had been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer at least one year before the start of the study. Of these patients, 20,000 received radiation, 14,000 underwent surgery and the remaining 15,000 patients remained untreated.
The results are clear: While the average life expectancy of treated patients after both radiotherapy and total surgery was 13 years, untreated cancer patients lived an average of only 10 years. According to the researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, this argues in favor of rethinking the so-called "watchful-waiting" strategy.
This is because therapy is still often not given to older patients in the early stages of the cancer. The reason so far is that because the average age of men at diagnosis is over 70 and the cancer progresses very slowly in many cases, prostate cancer has less impact on life expectancy than other cancers.
Today, a variety of effective and proven therapy options are available for the treatment of prostate cancer. In addition to radical removal of the prostate, brachytherapy has proven particularly effective as an established method of modern radiation therapy. "With seed implantation and the afterloading procedure, we now have highly effective methods for the therapy of prostate carcinoma with few side effects, even for older patients," says Dr. Pedram Derakhshani, senior urologist at the West German Prostate Center. Which therapy is the right one, however, must always be decided on a case-by-case basis.