A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine supports “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” as the best medical option for many prostate cancer diagnoses, according to Dr. Peter Albertsen, chief of UConn Health’s Division of Urology.
If a man is found to have low-grade prostate cancer, says Albertsen, there’s growing evidence to support the idea that the best course of action is nothing. Nothing right away, that is — no surgery, no radiation — nothing other than to keep an eye on it and monitor how it progresses.
“I don’t want to say that men don’t die of prostate cancer,” says Albertsen. “But a lot of older men have what we know are slowly growing prostate cancers. In the past they would die of heart disease or lung problems or something else long before their prostate cancer could kill them. That’s still true.”
Albertsen consulted on a ten-year Oxford University study that followed more than 1,600 men, ages 50 through 69, who were diagnosed with localized prostate cancer and divided them into three study groups. One group was treated with surgery, one group was treated with radiation, and one group was monitored under active surveillance. The study found no significant differences in prostate cancer mortality among the three groups.