According to a study released on Saturday, researchers have discovered long-term evidence that actively monitoring localized prostate cancer is a safe alternative to immediate surgery or radiation. The findings are positive for men who wish to avoid sexual and incontinence issues related to treatment, as per Prostate cancer specialist Dr. Stacy Loeb, who was not involved in the study, and works at NYU Langone Health.
What does the study show?
The study conducted came out as a BNN breaking news highlighting a direct comparison of three approaches – surgery to remove tumors, radiation treatment, and monitoring. As prostate cancer tends to grow slowly, it took many years to analyze the outcomes of the disease.
According to Dr. Stacy Loeb, there was no significant difference in prostate cancer mortality at the 15-year mark between the three groups. Additionally, the prostate cancer survival rate for all three groups was high, at 97%, regardless of the treatment approach taken, which is positive news.
The outcomes of the research were released on Saturday and were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as presented at a European Association of Urology conference held in Milan, Italy. The study was funded by Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Research.
According to the lead author, Dr. Freddie Hamdy of the University of Oxford, men who have been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer should not panic or rush to make treatment decisions. Instead, they should carefully assess the potential benefits and harms that could result from each treatment option available to them.
Dr. Freddie Hamdy, the lead author of the study, noted that while the majority of men with localized prostate cancer do not require urgent treatment, a small number of men with high-risk or advanced diseases may need it.
Participation of Over 1,600 men in the research
Over 1,600 men in the UK participated in the research and were randomly assigned to receive surgery, radiation, or active monitoring. All participants had prostate cancer that was confined to the prostate gland, which is a small walnut-shaped organ that is part of the male reproductive system. Men who were in the active monitoring group underwent regular blood tests, and some eventually received surgery or radiation.
The study, which began in 1999, followed over 1,600 men in the UK who were randomly assigned to receive surgery, radiation, or active monitoring for localized prostate cancer. Results showed that death from prostate cancer occurred in 3.1% of the active-monitoring group, 2.2% in the surgery group, and 2.9% in the radiation group, but these differences were not statistically significant.
At the 15-year mark, cancer had spread in 9.4% of the active-monitoring group, 4.7% of the surgery group, and 5% of the radiation group. Experts noted that current monitoring practices, which incorporate MRI imaging and gene tests to guide treatment decisions, are more advanced than those used in the study
Loeb stated that there are now increased options to detect the progression of a disease before it spreads. In the United States, approximately 60% of low-risk patients opt for active surveillance, which is a form of monitoring.
Hamdy noted that after observing the difference in cancer spread over 10 years, the researchers expected it to have an impact on survival after 15 years, but it did not. He stated that prostate cancer death cannot be predicted solely based on its spread. According to him, this discovery is novel and valuable for men when deciding their treatment options.
The BNN breaking news also highlighted the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Saturday and presented at a European Association of Urology conference in Milan, Italy, with funding provided.