When surgery for prostate cancer became available in the eighties, many men aged over 40 were diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer even though they didn’t exhibit any symptoms of the disease. The word “cancer” sounded like a death knell to a lot of men then, and so impotence and incontinence after surgery was a small sacrifice compared to death.
But decades later, two studies have shown that surgical removal of the cancer in the prostate is perhaps going to be less of an option nowadays. In fact, the cancer may not require any treatment at all.
Currently, majority of prostate cancers take years, even decades to leave the prostate – and most men will probably die with, but not from, prostate cancer – eventually. Studies of autopsies of men who died of prostate cancer showed 40% of them passed away in their forties and 65% of them in their sixties. However, a smaller figure of 3%-4% of Australian men actually died of prostate cancer at a median age of 82.
So two latest clinical trials of prostate cancer coming out as NOT a death sentence to the patients have very encouraging results and may have great implications in the long-term. Both studies discovered men who were diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer but did not go through surgery or radiation but whose disease is still monitored throughout the cancer live just as long as the men who had complete surgery of the prostate and had to live with sometimes incontinence, bowel problems, etc.
The Two Studies from the UK and the U.S.
The U.K. study involved 3 groups of men who were classified as a) those with prostate cancer surgically removed (553 men); b) those who received radiation treatment (545 men); and c) those actively being monitored, meaning no treatment or surgery (545 men). After 10 years of being monitored, the total number of deaths attributed to any cause was 55, 55, and 59, respectively for each group.
The main findings here is that 90% of the mean of each group were still alive after 10 years, including those who did not receive any radical treatments. Although surgery staved off some of the deaths from prostate cancer from the group who had it, the number of deaths was still low, meaning only 3, 4 and 7 deaths, respectively, for each group.
So the chances of dying from prostate cancer, as far as the first 10 years of life, is in the low 1% as gathered by this study.
The second study involved U.S-based men and was just completed middle of this year. Here, two groups of men were classified under 2 groups: a) those who had surgical removal of the prostate (364 men), and b) those who were actively being monitored, meaning no treatments or surgery (367 men). After being monitored and followed-up for 20 years, the number of deaths for each group attributed to any cause was 223 and 245, respectively, in each group.
So, we come again to the same conclusion that regardless of any intervention/treatment, the men in each group remained alive 20 years after the study started.
Surgery also was noted to not prevent death compared to just active monitoring. Impressively, the number of deaths attributed to prostate cancer for both groups was 18 for those who had surgery, and 22 for those with no intervention.
This means the chances of dying from prostate cancer was very slim in the first 20 years after its diagnosis from a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – to be specific, about 5% for those with surgery, and slightly higher, 6%, for those without surgery or actively monitoring.
Arguments about Prostate Cancer after the Findings
One of the biggest issues now after the findings of the 2 studies is not about deciding which treatment is best for prostate cancer but if any radical intervention is needed at all. Even Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, pointed out that aggressive PSA screening and treatment had led to more than 1 million Americans probably going through needless treatment.
Moreover, patients who have undergone prostate surgery might be 4 times more likely to require absorbent pads for incontinence and 3 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
Our recommendations for future prostate cancer patients are to not just discuss the treatments with your medical doctor. But also consider an alternative treatment which is all-natural, painless, organic and plant-based. Even if there is no particular intervention, one must still live a healthy life. Eat organically and take in plants and herbs that will help in eradicating or relieving the pain of inflammation.
The worldwide epidemiology of prostate cancer: perspectives from autopsy studies
10-Year Outcomes after Monitoring, Surgery, or Radiotherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer
Follow-up of Prostatectomy versus Observation for Early Prostate Cancer