Are orthodox prostate treatments a waste of time?

2014 Research

A body of research evidence is building which shows current orthodox prostate cancer treatment may be a waste of time.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, (results published in the journal Cancer), discovered that aggressive cancer therapies like surgery and radiation provide no benefits for men over 66 – in fact, they may cause worsening of the patient’s health and an earlier death.

We have covered research previously in Cancer Watch showing that survival rates were the same whether you had prostate cancer surgery or not at any age (The Pivot Study). There were other studies showing chemo and radiotherapy might not be that beneficial.

In the UCLA study, data on some 140,553 men aged 66 years or older was analysed – all had early-stage prostate cancer. Some of them had other health conditions and this may play an important part. It seems their bodies might be less able to withstand the stresses and strains of orthodox prostate treatment.

Timothy Daskivich, a UCLA Robert Wood Johnson fellow oversaw the work, which concluded that the mortality risk was roughly the same – treatment or no treatment.

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"In the past, we’ve relied on the basic argument that older and sicker men are much more likely to die of other things besides their prostate cancer that exposing them to aggressive treatment, and its debilitating side effects is a poor gamble," said Daskivich. "Now we’ve shown that aggressive treatment of these men is ineffective. This information will help these men better maximize the quality of their remaining years."

"The guidelines suggest the men with life expectancies of less than 10 years shouldn’t be treated aggressively, but life expectancy is difficult to measure accurately," added Daskivich. "This data clearly defines a subset of patients who should avoid therapies that will only cause them problems they don’t already have."

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2014 Research
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