Less Can Be More with Prostate Cancer Treatments

While aggressive treatments are called for in more advanced cases of prostate cancer, patients with low-risk forms of the disease may find that less is technically more. New research, in fact, is revealing that increased doses of radiation treatment may offer no real benefits while opening the door for greater side effect risks.

The research was compiled by the University of Pennsylvania’s department of radiation oncology. There researchers used information from the National Cancer Database to arrive at their findings. The study looked at the survival rates of 42,481 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. While the study found that increased doses of radiation proved effective in helping men with medium- to high-risk prostate cancer, no real difference was found in the survival rates of men with low-risk forms of the disease when higher doses were administered. For men with medium risk tumors, increased doses increased survival rates by 7.8 percent. Those with high-risk forms of the disease saw their survival rates climb by 6.3 percent.

While the research showed that higher doses of radiation are beneficial in more advanced cases of the disease, increased doses for low-risk cases can open the door for greater side-effect risks with potential damage to such areas as the rectum and bladder. When lower doses are indicated for treatment, healthy, normal tissue can be more effectively protected.

Prostate cancer strikes an estimated 150,000 American men each and every year. Many of these men undergo aggressive treatments including complete prostate removal and/or radiation. In some cases, at least, men may find a more conservative treatment path beneficial, the research indicates.

Men who are concerned about prostate cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Routine screening for the disease should begin around the age of 50. Should the disease be detected, men are urged to discuss all treatment options carefully with their doctors before choosing a course of action.

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