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Some prostate cancer patients with small or low-risk tumors may opt to postpone or forego treatment without harm, new research suggests.
A study which appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology tracked treatment and health changes in 3,331 men with prostate cancer between 1986 and 2007. The researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reported that about 10 percent of this group opted to defer treatment for at least one year. Ten years to 15 years later, half of these men still had not undergone treatment for prostate cancer and reported favorable health conditions.
Dr Martin Sanda, director of the Prostate Cancer Center at BIDMC explained that deaths among men with low-risk tumors were uncommon. "Our analysis showed that only 2 percent of the men who deferred treatment eventually died of the disease, compared with 1 percent of the men who began treatment immediately following their diagnosis. This is not a statistically significant difference."
The scientists hope their findings reduce the problem of doctors over-diagnosing prostate cancer by introducing monitored deferral of treatments as a viable method for curing low-risk tumors.
According to data compiled by the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men. Doctors have recommended prostate cancer testing in all men over 50.
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