A study of long-term evidence — started in 1999 — on prostate cancer reveals that it is safe to actively monitor prostate cancer locally — with MRI imaging and gene tests guiding decisions — rather than having surgery or radiation treatment.
People who are suffering from this disease can take a sigh of relief as the study encourages them to have monitoring of their prostate cancer and not seek treatment for their sexual and incontinence problems, said Dr Stacy Loeb, who is a prostate cancer specialist at NYU Langone Health but was not part of the study.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland, a part of the reproductive system and its cancer is common in males.
While comparing the three modes of treatment in the study — tumour removal surgery, radiation treatment and monitoring — most of the cancers in the prostate grow slowly therefore, it takes years to reveal their effects.
Dr Leob highlighted that “in 15 years, no difference was observed between the groups in prostate cancer mortality and the survival rate for all the groups was as high as 97% without the treatment. “That’s also very good news”, he said.
The study was presented before a European Association of Urology conference in Milan, Italy and published in the Journal of Medicine New England.
Those men who suffer from localised prostate cancer should not be anxious or decide to pursue treatment but should analyse the pros and cons of treatment, said the lead author of the study, Dr Freddie Hamdy of the University of Oxford, further adding that it is a very useful study for men who are more inclined towards avoiding treatment.
However, those who are declared at high risk and fully developed disease need urgent treatment, the author said.
“This is a new and interesting finding, useful for men when they make decisions about treatments,” Dr Hamdy said.
During the study, more than 1,600 men from the UK, gave consent to be randomly assigned to the three modes of treatment — surgery, radiation or monitoring. Blood tests on a regular basis have been performed on those who were in the monitoring group whereas others went on to have surgery or radiation.
The death rate in the monitoring group was found to be 3.1%, 2.2 of those in the surgery group and 2.9 reported in the group of those who were assigned to radiation treatment.
The cancer spread in 9.4% of the monitoring group, 4.7% reported in the surgery group and 5% in the radiation group over 15 years, according to the study
At 15 years, cancer had spread in 9.4% of the active-monitoring group, 4.7% of the surgery group and 5% of the radiation group.
Dr Loeb believed that there are medical instruments which can detect the disease at its early stage before it proliferates.