A diagnosis of cancer means the time for immediate, often aggressive, action has arrived. While that might be true with many forms of the disease, sometimes waiting and watching is the best approach to take with prostate cancer. While this particular fact has long been known, men for quite some time were still opting for more aggressive treatments. The frequency of this response, however, is now on the decline, research is showing.
Men who are diagnosed with low-risk, localized, early stage prostate cancer are option to just live with the disease in greater numbers these days, a recent study found. The use of “active surveillance,” or watchful waiting, has increased dramatically between the years of 2010 and 2013, the study published in JAMA found. Doctors who say life-altering treatments for this particular form of cancer are not always needed are encouraged by the findings.
While one in seven men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, many have a form of the disease that isn’t particularly threatening. Slow growing and not likely to spread, this disease can be endured for years with most patients dying from other causes in their later years. Despite this, men had been opting for treatment options including surgery and radiation when surveillance was likely all that was required.
According to the research, men with low-risk cancer only opted for surveillance in 7 to 14 percent of the cases reviewed between 1990 and 2009. This number rose to 40 percent between 2010 and 2013. The numbers were even higher for men age 75 and older. In this group, about 76 percent opted for waiting.
Active surveillance is only indicated in very particular cases. Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are advised to discuss their options carefully with their healthcare providers. Should surveillance be a viable treatment, this path can help men avoid some of the more unpleasant side effects associated with more aggressive treatments.