Questions raised over prostate cancer treatment

In collaboration with the Press Association

New research suggests that the majority of men diagnosed with low-grade prostate cancer do not need to undergo the radical treatment currently used. The study by the Institute of Cancer Research shows that the removal of the prostate is very unlikely to increase overall survival for men with low-grade prostate cancer. The Institute said that common treatments such as surgery to remove the prostate or radiotherapy may cause incontinence and impotence without providing substantial benefits in survival rates. However, it adds that men in the same group (55-59) with high-grade prostate cancer should benefit from treatment. The model predicts that without treatment up to 68 per cent of these men could die from prostate cancer. Dr Emma Knight, Cancer Research UK's science information officer, said: "A diagnosis of low-grade prostate cancer can raise the dilemma of whether men should have radical treatment or be monitored. "The disease grows so slowly in many men that they are unlikely to die from it but surgery and radiotherapy can carry risks of impotence and incontinence. "The results of this study provide men and their doctors with more information on which to base their decision, by suggesting that, even without treatment, only one in 100 men with low-grade prostate cancer will die from their disease within 15 years." Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed male cancer in the UK with nearly 32,000 new cases each year and around 10,000 deaths. Ms Knight added that it is important to stress that these results are only predictions. "Data from ongoing clinical trials such as ProtecT (Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment) should, in time, portray the pros and cons of treatment versus monitoring more accurately," she said.