The word “cancer” strikes fear in everyone who is told they have it. It conjures up images of a fast-moving, life-threatening disease.
That isn’t necessarily the case for men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. More than half of them have a type of cancer that is confined to the prostate gland and that grows so slowly it will never affect their health or their lives. Yet almost 90% of men told they have prostate cancer opt for immediate treatment with surgery or radiation therapy—which often cause trouble getting or keeping an erection and an assortment of urinary problems.
Two weeks ago, a panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health recommended that many men with localized, low-risk prostate cancer be closely monitored, and that treatment be delayed until there was evidence that the disease was progressing.
“It’s clear that many men would benefit from delaying treatment,” Dr. Patricia A. Ganz, conference panel chairperson and director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California in Los Angeles, said in a statement, adding that Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
In today’s fast-paced world, waiting — whether it’s at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection — is rarely considered a good thing.
But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease — a strategy doctors refer to as “watchful waiting,” active surveillance or expectant management — may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.
Patients want to know what they’re waiting for, says urologic oncologist E. David Crawford, MD, chairman of the Prostate Conditions Education Council and associate director of the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The purpose is to watch in order to see whether a condition progresses. That way, patients and physicians know what kind of threat a disorder poses and they can make a better decision about how urgently treatment is needed. Some people might never need treatment, for instance with a slow-growing cancer. Other people can delay treatment for months or years.
Precancerous conditions may also be monitored with active surveillance. One example is Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*