Active surveillance of prostate cancer – Does it mark a move from tradition and the theory “if in doubt, cut it out”?

A Recent study suggests that more than half of men with prostate cancer do not need immediate treatment.

It refers to patients being given an option of “active surveillance” through blood tests and examinations every 3 months with invasive treatment only if cancer starts to grow.

The intended benefit it to reduce the potential side effects associated more commonly with immediate surgery to remove a prostate or radiation therapy.  The study found those that were offered active surveillance had a lower rate of incontinence or impotence.  The ““New England Journal of Medicine” reported that they had fewer bowel problems than those given radiotherapy.

This has to be weighed up against the worry of regular check-ups with blood tests and examinations every few months.  Prostate tumours often grow slowly meaning that they will not be life threatening for many men.

The survey said those who chose active surveillance were twice as likely to see their cancer spread, which could indicate a high risk of death 15-20 years after diagnosis.

This data gives doctors the power to allow patients to make a choice. Ultimately doctors will have to look at each case on its own fact.

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Leonie Millard

About Leonie Millard

Leonie is a Partner within the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Department at Forbes Solicitors. Leonie’s blogs cover her specialisms in road traffic accidents, slips and trips, occupiers’ liability, criminal injuries compensation authority claims and cases against hospital Trusts, GP’s, dentists and private practices.

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