The rush to treat prostate cancer
by Mary Budinger
Arecent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology (JAMA Oncology) tells us too many men are being treated for prostate cancer. The majority of those men are being hustled into immediately starting radiation treatments that can be unnecessary and toxic.
The research suggests that a wait-and-watch approach for prostate cancer is not being used often enough. Prostate cancer is a famously slow-growing cancer. Most men die of something else.
Prostate cancer can often be detected early and, according to the researchers, as many as 233,000 men in the United States are diagnosed with the disease every year. Some of these cancers need to be treated immediately; others can be monitored to see how they develop.
Prostate cancers often fall into a category known as “indolent,” meaning the cancer generally will not cause problems or is not expected to be life threatening. Active surveillance may be an option for these cancers.
The study followed approximately 38,000 men in the United States, all at least 65 or older, who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2004 and 2007. The researchers wanted to find out why many men do not choose the surveillance option.
Lead researcher Dr. Karim Chamie, a urology professor at the University of California, said financial incentives for doctors might play a role in the preference for radiation, especially since reimbursement for radiation is higher than for surgery.
Dr. Sandip Prasad, an assistant professor of urology at the Medical University of South Carolina, who cowrote a commentary in the same issue of JAMA Oncology, did not go as far as to say that radiation is overused. Still, he said, “We believe treatment — radiation or surgery — should not be 90 percent of what is being done.”
Source: JAMA Oncology as reported by WebMD, February 19, 2015.
Mary Budinger is a certified nutritional therapy consultant and an Emmy-award winning journalist who writes and teaches about nutrition and integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 2, April/May 2015.