Men with early prostate cancer who put off surgery is almost the same as men who had prompt surgery. On average, their tumors were no likely to develop into a more aggressive form than men who had surgery immediately after diagnosis. Additionally, after eight years, .9 percent of men who delayed surgery had died compared to .7 percent of men who had prompt surgery.
“Our findings show that if a man is diagnosed with a localized low-risk prostate cancer, there is no rush to decide which treatment choice (is) best,” said lead researcher Dr. Benny Holmstrom, of Gavle Hospital in Sweden.
The results add to data that some patients can safely opt for “active surveillance” — where the prostate cancer is monitored with regular PSA blood tests, digital rectal exams and possibly prostate biopsies and costly, painful surgical procedures are avoided.
A study published last year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimated that since 1986, around 1 million U.S. men received unnecessary treatment for prostate tumors that were not life threatening.
As experts and health providers are increasingly calling for expanded use of active surveillance in monitoring prostate cancer, this study is particularly significant. However, Holmstrom warned that further, long-term studies are still needed to insure that active surveillance is truly the best option for prostate cancer patients.