Early cancer treatment improves life

Men who receive treatment for early-stage, localised prostate cancer live significantly longer than those who are advised to 'watch and wait', a study has shown.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine looked at 44,630 65 to 80-year-old prostate cancer patients who had small tumours with a low or intermediate risk of spreading.

Treatment for early-stage prostate cancer is controversial and unpredictable due to the slow-developing nature of the cancer, and recently-diagnosed men are often advised to wait and see how their situation progresses before receiving prostate cancer treatment.

However, senior study author Dr Katrina Armstrong revealed: "After accounting for all their differences, we discovered that the men [who within six months of diagnosis underwent surgery or radiation therapy] were 31 percent less likely to die than those who did not undergo treatment during that time."

Thirty-seven per cent of patients who were observed but not treated died within the study period, whereas only 23.8 per cent of those who received prostate cancer treatment died.

Dr Armstrong warned that the findings should not be used to influence treatment decisions until rigorous controlled trials have been conducted to validate the results.

The study is published in the December 13th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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