More men with prostate cancer could afford to delay their treatment, a decades-long study has found, suggesting that active monitoring by health-care professionals is an equally valid — and less harsh — option.
The study, published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed more than 1,600 men newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer in the United Kingdom. Up to 21 years after diagnosis, the study found that patients’ risk of dying from the disease was low regardless of whether they were actively monitored or treated with radiation or surgery.
More aggressive treatment helped slow progression of the disease, but did not lower the men’s overall risk of dying of the disease. The authors say this finding suggests that “more aggressive therapy can result in more harm than good” — because the side effects of those treatments can be debilitating to patients, and may not pay off in the end.