Benefits of not treating low-risk prostate cancer revealed

Men with low risk prostate cancer may enjoy a good quality of life if they are not treated, according to the findings of a new European study.

Researchers studied men in their late 60s and assessed their quality of life for periods of up to ten years.

The researchers said men who were not treated – but were monitored closely – enjoyed about the same quality of life as men without cancer.

The findings were reported to the conference of the European Association of Urology in Munich, Germany.

It involved some 427 patients of whom 121 chose not to have treatment. Some 74 had surgery and 232 had radiotherapy. Another group of 204 men without prostate cancer was also monitored for comparison.

Researcher Dr Lionne Venderbos, of Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, said: “We found that men on active surveillance experienced better prostate-related health than men who underwent radical prostatectomy and radiotherapy. This showed up as better urinary function, less urinary incontinence and better sexual function.

"Furthermore, we found that the quality of life of men on active surveillance was similar to a group of men without prostate cancer. This is interesting because men on active surveillance still live with untreated cancer as compared to men in the reference group who do not have cancer."

Dr Alberto Briganti, from the congress committee, said: "Proper patient counselling about safety of assisted surveillance is key to maintain both good quality of life, and intact psychological and functional well-being over time.

"We also need to note that it is possible that patients choosing assisted surveillance may be less disposed to accept any form of treatment, and this might be difficult to uncover via the retrospective comparisons of validated questionnaires."

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