Surgery is not the only option for men with prostate cancer, according to a new study from University of Minnesota professor of medicine Timothy Wilt, M.D. that looked at cases of cancer still contained to the prostate.  Furthermore, Wilt found that many men who had prostate surgery to contain there cancer may not have needed it.

Wilt conducted the study in his capacity as a researcher at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

Wilt found that patients were still able to effectively manage their health without surgical treatment, though those with higher-risk early cancers would still see a slight benefit from surgery.

Badrinath Konety, M.D., M.B.A, chair of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Urology, believes this is an important study but that the results should be taken in stride because of a relatively low number of patients enrolled in the research.

“This study compared watchful waiting early surgery.  Currently, the more commonly accepted practice in men who do not get treated right away is active surveillance, involving periodic reevaluation followed by treatment if there are signs of disease progression but before development of symptoms.  The data also suggest that men who have a higher PSA and more aggressive cancer can live longer if they undergo surgery.”

Konety also commented on the benefits of early treatment:

“The benefits of early treatment are not only prevention of death but also prevention of complications from advanced disease. Since the time more aggressive screening and treatment of prostate cancer have been pursued, the death rate from this disease has declined by more than 40 percent.”

The study was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine and can also be accessed online.

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