Study affirms benefits of ‘watchful waiting’
Barbara Peters Smith - Herald-Tribune
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
So many uncertainties surround the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer that it continues to be difficult to decide what course a patient should take. While men and their loved ones ponder the many options, fortunes are being made by physicians touting the latest cure.
Therapies abound, but each has potential downsides, and “watchful waiting” has become a more valid option for men with slow-growing tumors. Now a Yale study of Medicare data confirms that this is often the best course for older patients.
Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study finds that aggressively managing disease that is unlikely to progress puts patients at risk for complications and increases costs without medical benefits.
“Treatment can do more harm than good in some instances,” said senior author Cary Gross, associate professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine. “Among men who are older and have less aggressive forms of prostate cancer, their cancer is unlikely to progress or cause them harm in their remaining years.”
All the more reason to seek out a prostate cancer specialist you can trust. And if in doubt, keep looking.