Elderly patients also benefit from treatment

Results of a recent US study question the strategy of "cautious waiting" in elderly patients with prostate cancer

For men over 65 years of age who suffer from localized prostate cancer, radiation or surgical removal of the prostate increases their average life expectancy by about three years.

This is the result of a major American study of 49,000 men aged between 65 and 80 recently presented at a prostate cancer symposium in San Francisco. Patients who were diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early stage of disease at least one year prior to the trial were included in the study. Of these patients, 20 000 were irradiated, 14 000 underwent surgery and the remaining 15 000 remained untreated.

The results are clear: While the average life expectancy of the treated patients was 13 years after radiotherapy and total surgery, the average life expectancy of untreated cancer patients was only 10 years. According to the researchers at the Fox-Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, this suggests that the so-called "watchful-waiting" strategy, i. e. the cautious waiting, should be reconsidered.

In older patients at the early stage of cancer, therapy is still often not required. The reason for this is that, since men's age at diagnosis averages over 70 years and cancer progresses very slowly in many cases, prostate cancer has a lesser impact on life expectancy than other cancers.

Decide individually

The treatment of prostate carcinoma offers a wide range of effective and proven therapeutic options. In addition to the radical removal of the prostate, brachytherapy has proven to be an established method of modern radiotherapy. With seed implantation and the afterloading procedure, we now have highly effective and at the same time side-effect-reduced methods for the treatment of prostate cancer available to us, even for older patients,"says Dr. Pedram Derakhshani, chief urologist at the West German Prostate Center. Which therapy is the right one, however, must always be decided on a case-by-case basis.

More information on the study can be found on the American Society of Clinical Oncology website

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