Prostate cancer: therapy brings more disadvantages than benefits

Active therapy with radiation or surgery for prostate cancer has virtually no impact on survival, according to a new study.

Prostate cancer: therapy brings more disadvantages than benefits

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Germany, with more than 64,000 new cases a year. But does it make sense to remove the tumor by surgery or radiation? A new study shows that tumor therapies have no significant impact on life expectancy after diagnosis. At the same time, they worsen the quality of life but massive.

Whether with or without therapy: The survival rate in prostate cancer remains almost the same. This is the conclusion of an English study in which Oxford University researchers evaluated data from more than 1,600 comparatively young patients (50 to 69 years) with prostate cancer. The result: no relationship between survival and therapy was detectable. Within 10 years even more men died who had undergone surgery or were irradiated. Within the study period (1999 to 2009) there were a total of 17 deaths. In 5 of the deceased prostate cancer had been operated, 4 were irradiated. The remaining 8 men were actively watched. That is, the growth of the tumor was controlled, but there was no direct therapy.

From this it can be concluded that active observation is sufficient in many cases of prostate cancer, the researchers write in the New England Journal of Medicine. Because an increased risk for the formation of metastases hardly affect the life expectancy.

Experts have long been criticizing prostate therapy

Many experts have been criticizing the active treatment of prostate cancer for some time. Their main arguments: In the vast majority of cases, prostate cancer is diagnosed in men over the age of 70 years. According to the Robert Koch Institute, more than 90 percent of these men survive the first 10 years after diagnosis. So you reach an age of more than 80 years. By contrast, the average life expectancy for a boy born today is just over 78 years.

Although this statistical correlation does not say anything about the individual case, it does suggest a question: how much is it worthwhile for the individual to accept the considerable side effects of surgery or radiation? In addition to hospitalization incontinence and erectile dysfunction or impotence and other possible complications significantly reduce the quality of life of those affected.

In this context, there is also criticism of prostate cancer screening with so-called PSA tests. According to the German Cancer Society, more than half of the prostate growths discovered with this antibody test cause no complaints. Many patients would be unnecessarily unsettled and exposed to the stress of choosing a treatment and the possible side effects. A PSA test would therefore only be a good choice if, for example, there were indications of an increased risk. According to the current status, the yearly palpation of the prostate from the 45th year onwards paid by the statutory health insurance companies is sufficient for the provision.

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