Study Finds Specific Group of Prostate Cancer Patients Are Over-Treated

Study Finds Specific Group of Prostate Cancer Patients Are Over-Treated
UCLA researchers found that a significant number of men suffering from prostate cancer who are older than 66 years, have life expectancies lower than 10 years, but still, half of them are still over-treated with surgery, radiation or brachytherapy. Even though national guidelines recommend that radiation therapy or surgery should not be given to men who are diagnosed with low and intermediate risk prostate cancer (or who have less than 10 years of life expectancy), the study found that a significant percentage of those men are actually receiving aggressive procedures, resulting in potentially incapacitating side effects. The study, published in Cancer, relied on the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Medicare database to analyze 96,032 men aged 66 and older, diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer from 1991 to 2007. Based on the available data, researchers were able to calculate patients’ life expectancy and understand which treatment patterns were applied in men who had less than 10 years of life expectancy. “Life expectancy is poorly integrated into treatment decision-making for prostate cancer, yet it is one of the primary determinants of whether a patient will benefit from treatment with surgery or radiation,”study first author Dr. Timothy Daskivich, a UCLA Robert Wood Johnson fellow said in a news release. “Because these treatments have side effects such as erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and bowel problems, it’s critical for men with limited life expectancies to avoid unnecessary treatment for low- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer", he added. The team found that 68% of the time, men aged 66 to 69 were treated aggressively with radiation, surgery or brachytherapy; 69% of the time, men aged 70 to 74 receive
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