WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- As more men are screened
for and diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, a new draft report
released Wednesday by a U.S. National Institutes of Health panel
concluded that research on the safety of "active surveillance" is
Once prostate cancer is discovered, many men opt for surgery or
other treatments that can have negative effects on their quality of
life, including erectile dysfunction, hot flashes and problems
urinating. For many of these men active surveillance might be a
better option, but little is known about the consequences of such a
conservative strategy, the experts noted.
"Our panel found that many men with localized low-risk prostate cancer should be closely monitored permitting their treatment to be delayed until disease progression warrants it," Dr. Patricia A. Ganz, panel chairwoman and director of prevention and control research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, said during an afternoon news conference.
Some men with prostate cancer will benefit from immediate
treatment, but others will benefit from observation, she added.
The consensus of the panel was that many men could benefit from
active surveillance. And it is one of the options that should be
offered, according to the panel's draft report.
According to Ganz, more than 100,000 men who are diagnosed with
prostate cancer each year in the United States would be candidates
for active surveillance rather than immediate treatment.
But, there is no standard protocol recommending when a man
should move from active surveillance to treatment, she said.
Active surveillance is not just monitoring PSA levels, but may
involve several biopsies over time or scans to see if the cancer
has grown, Ganz said. Often men are not given this option, and many
men are reluctant to hold off on treatment, the panel noted.
"Among the recommendations are that we teach physicians to be able to communicate the possibility of a more conservative observational strategy to men who are candidates in this low-risk group with very limited disease," Ganz said.
Among patients, the word cancer tends to set off an emotional
response that encourages them to chose a more active treatment, the
There are still many unanswered questions, the panel said. Among
these are: how to identify the patients who would benefit most from
active surveillance; how such a program would be conducted; the
best way to present this option to patients; the best way to help
patients decide on this option; the reasons for opting for active
surveillance vs. active treatment; and finding out the true
outcomes of this approach.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in
American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that for 2011:
about 241,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and
roughly 33,720 men will die of the disease.
About one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate
cancer during his lifetime. More than 2 million men diagnosed with
the disease at some point are still alive today, the society
For more on prostate cancer, visit the
U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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