Untreated prostate cancer no death sentence


Even without treatment, only a small minority of men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer die from the disease, Swedish researchers reported Friday.
Drawing from a national cancer register, they estimated that after 10 years prostate cancer would have killed less than three percent of these men.
“What the data is showing is that for most patients with low-risk cancer, there is no need to panic,” said Grace Lu-Yao, a cancer researcher who was not involved in the new study. “Prostate cancer really is no longer a fatal disease.”
With modern screening tests, said Lu-Yao, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick, many prostate cancers are found that might never have developed into serious disease. In such cases, the slight reduction of risk by surgically removing the prostate or treating it with radiation may not outweigh the substantial side effects of these treatments.
In the Swedish study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers compared deaths among more than 6 800 men with prostate cancer who underwent treatment surgery or radiation or were simply monitored regularly by their doctors, the so—called “watchful waiting” approach. With watchful waiting, patients are only treated if their cancer progresses.