NEW YORK, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new prostate cancer study published in the New England Journal of Medicine comparing surgical treatment to "watchful waiting" revealed important findings for patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and currently debating their treatment options.
Two of the most commonly offered clinical options for early prostate cancer treatment today are "watchful waiting" and radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the entire prostate gland). Watchful waiting refers to the doctor and patient's decision to "wait and see" and to avoid immediate definitive treatment for the prostate cancer. The logic behind this approach is that many patients die of causes other than prostate cancer, and the disease often progresses slowly. Surgical removal of the prostate, or radical prostatectomy, is a more definitive primary treatment. The entire gland is removed, along with the entire cancer.
After following patients for approximately 15 years after treatment, the New England Journal study found that patients under 65 years, and particularly those with low risk prostate cancer, who underwent prostatectomy had a 38% lower risk of death from prostate cancer compared to their watchful waiting counterparts. The surgery patients also had a lower rate of metastasis, or spreading of the cancer to distant sites. These results were even seen among patients with low risk cancer, a groundbreaking finding that had never before been demonstrated this conclusively.