Men Can Take Their Time To Decide On Prostate Cancer Treatment

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Is it safe to wait to make a decision about having prostate cancer surgery, even after you've waited and waited for all the doctor appointments and test results? Or will the additional delay reduce your chances of being cured? Reassuring research says that men can take the time they need to make their decisions, reports the February 2008 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch.

One study evaluated men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer who elected to have surgery. The men were divided into groups based on the amount of time that had elapsed between their diagnostic biopsies and their operations. The shortest period was 15 days, and the longest was 520 days. There was no correlation between the interval between biopsy and surgery and the risk of recurrence.

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Another study divided men into two groups: those who waited less than three months and those who waited longer. As in the previous study, the time lag between diagnosis and surgery did not predict the risk of recurrence.

It's reassuring news, but does it apply to patients with a high risk for aggressive cancer? In the second study, the scientists identified high-risk patients, and even among these men, there was no link between delay and recurrence.

The Harvard Men's Health Watch suggests that if a man knows how he wants to treat his prostate cancer, there is no reason to wait. But if he's not yet sure, he can take the time he needs to read about prostate cancer, consult with experts, and talk with family members. It's a difficult decision, and it shouldn't be rushed. Prostate cancer is different from most cancers because it's usually slow-growing. Even aggressive prostate cancer cells take longer to multiply compared with most other cancers.

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