Do newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patients even need treatment?

It sounds like a question with an obvious answer. But not according to a more than slightly embarrassing piece of research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Swedish researchers have concluded that if none of the men diagnosed with early prostate cancer had any treatment at all, over 97 per cent would still survive ten years or more! This is grossly at odds with Eurocare-4 showing European 5-year survival figures from diagnosis for treated patients of 45 per cent to 83 per cent depending upon the country in question.

Back in 2002 CANCERactive led the way amongst UK charities in observing that the great majority of prostate cancers were slow growing and did not need treating. About 4 years later NICE, along with cancer centres from Sloan-Kettering to the Royal Marsden, took the same view.

This latest study goes even further. After comparing a group of low to mid-risk prostate patients having no treatment with a group having the usual surgery and hormone treatments, some eight years later the death rate amongst men in the no-treatment (active surveillance) group was exactly the same as the figure for the general population!! The researchers stated that after ten years only just over two per cent of men in the untreated group would have died from prostate cancer.

Ed: Unfortunately, in the UK there is little evidence that the NICE guidelines are heeded, especially if you are a private patient. As an anecdote, I have 6 friends diagnosed with early prostate cancer in 2009/10. All six were private patients, all six had their prostates removed within weeks of diagnosis three because it hadn’t spread and surgery would stop any spread (?); and three because it might have already spread! The contradictory science and lack of logic baffles me in both cases. If it hasn’t spread leave it alone! If it has, it is probably too late for surgery anyway.

Meanwhile I have one newly diagnosed friend in his sixties who has done nothing but change his diet, take supplements and exercise for six months. His PSA scores have all tumbled to the point where his GP has now told him he does not need an operation anymore!

Newly diagnosed prostate patients should not rush in to any treatment just as we have been saying for eight years!

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