Prostate Cancer: Surgery Rarely Best, Researcher Suggests

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Doctors Differ on Course of Action for Prostate Cancer

Many even felt that the study actually supports testing for PSA.

"This study does not undermine the value of PSA but underscores the importance of proper use of PSA in appropriate populations," said Dr. Phillip Kantoff, professor of medicine at Harvard's Dana Farber Cancer Institute. "The USPSTF fails to distinguish the value of PSA in saving lives from the problem of overtreatment."

While the experts could not agree on how to interpret the findings of this study, they all felt that more research was needed to find better tools to identify which prostate cancers would be slow-growing and harmless -- and which ones could be lethal. Technological advances such as prostate MRI and targeted biopsy are promising options undergoing study.

In the meantime, Ginyard and Carrillo had similar advice for patients who get the news they have prostate cancer.

"Really take time to do your research," Ginyard said. "Make the decision by gathering as much information as you can."

"Make sure you get a second opinion," said Carrillo.

Dcotors agreed that this is sound advice.

"Prostate cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease. It's really a spectrum," said Dr. Martin Sanda, a urologist at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

"The message to patients should be, get tested, have a biopsy if necessary, but be very careful before agreeing to treatment," said Dr. Peter Scardino, chief of surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "Make sure you have a cancer that really poses a serious risk to your life and health and that the treatment is not worse than the disease."

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