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Overtreatment a Concern with Prostate Cancer

New studies are indicating that men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer may not always be getting the best advice from their doctors. The studies found that many physicians are prescribing more aggressive treatment measures than may always be necessary, indicating a strong need for patients to seek out second options before moving ahead with a course of action. In some cases, taking a wait-and-see approach may indeed be the best treatment for prostate cancer.

Since many forms of prostate cancer are diagnosed early and happen to be rather slow-growing, careful monitoring may be the best advice in these cases. Research has long shown that non-aggressive prostate cancer that has not spread can be monitored rather than treated with strong results as far as life expectancy. Even so, many men, the studies indicate, are receiving more aggressive treatments that deliver strong side effect possibilities when they may not be needed.

The first study found that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still having their prostate glands removed or radiation therapy performed when monitoring could prove just as effective while reducing side effect risks associated with radiation and surgery.

Researchers in that study found that the doctor who makes the actual diagnosis tends to have the largest influence on what course of action a man will take. The rate of observation versus other treatments prescribed by urologists, for example, ranged from about 5 percent to 64 percent. Among radiation oncologists, the rate of observation ranged from 2 percent to 47 percent.

The second study involved the use of hormone therapy in men whose prostate cancer had not spread beyond the prostate itself. This therapy, researchers have found, is commonly used in elderly patients, but shows no real benefit in terms of survival for low-risk, localized prostate cancer.

The bottom line, researchers say, is that men should seek out second opinions and fully understand all treatment options and risk before choosing a path. Monitoring the disease may be the best course of action for those with low-risk, slow-growing forms of prostate cancer.

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