Monitoring rather than treatment recommended for some men with prostate cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

Men with less aggressive forms of prostate cancer should be offered regular checks rather than treatment in a bid to avoid unnecessary surgery or radiotherapy, according to updated guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

"Depending on how a man’s prostate cancer is affecting him and how likely it is to return or spread there can be different treatment choices and it’s good to see them all reflected in these new treatment guidelines." - Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK

Doctors treating men with "intermediate" or "low" risk prostate cancer should consider offering "active surveillance" instead of standard treatment options.

Prostate cancer can be slow growing and many men will not be harmed by the cancer over the course of their lifetime.

And standard treatment options, including surgery and radiotherapy, can have serious side effects such as erectile dysfunction, fertility problems and continence issues.

The guidelines outline a standard plan of action for men who opt for surveillance over treatment – including regular blood tests, biopsies and physical examinations to monitor whether the cancer is developing.

Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: “Research has made great strides in understanding the best ways to treat prostate cancer and this updated NICE guidance gives a clearer picture of the treatment options available to men. 

"Depending on how a man’s prostate cancer is affecting him and how likely it is to return or spread there can be different treatment choices and it’s good to see them all reflected in these new treatment guidelines.

“It also emphasises the importance of having discussions about their disease and the treatment options they may have as well as addressing possible side effects of surgery or medication.”

There are more than 40,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the UK every year. It is the most common form of cancer among men.

While many cases of prostate cancer will not cause any harm during the patient’s lifetime, nearly 10,000 men still die every year in England and Wales, said Professor Mark Baker, director of NICE's Centre for Clinical Practice.

Professor Baker said the revised guidelines were intended to ensure that "excellent treatment is provided for men who will benefit from it.”

Copyright Press Association 2014