Low-Risk Prostate Cancer: What New Data Says About Treatment vs. a Watchful Eye

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Piggy backing on a recent landmark three-decade long study published by the New England Journal of Medicine showing that prostate-removal surgery increased the life expectancy of men with high-risk or advanced prostate cancer by three years compared to men who did not get surgery, a new article published by JAMA further bolsters these findings and current treatment protocols for men with prostate cancer.

World-renowned urologist and surgeon, Vipul Patel, MD, FACS, medical director of the AdventHealth Global Robotics Institute and medical director of the AdventHealth Cancer Institute Urologic Oncology Program, explains what this study may mean to men’s health with a clear message of hope.

Why We’re Talking About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men, yet historical screening measures and treatment protocols have not aggressively conquered these climbing mortality rates.

But that is changing for the better.

“With more and more research, we now have data-backed guidelines for prostate cancer screenings as well as what men with prostate cancer should be treated surgically compared to which men may benefit most from active surveillance and careful observation, ” explains Dr. Patel.

He adds, “This new article further supports our current treatment protocols with offering low-risk prostate cancer patients active surveillance over surgery as a treatment plan. Not all prostate cancers need to be treated and some may never need treatment if they remain low-risk.”

How Active Surveillance Works

If you’ve been diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer and are given the option of active surveillance, you might first feel as if this means a passive approach; however, this is far from the case.

“Active surveillance is effective because with patient cooperation and close monitoring with us, we can do genetic testing and assess their prostate cancer routinely and effectively to know when (if ever) surgery is required. We assess their cancer every six months to a year depending on each patient and continue to study the tumor’s size and Gleason Score to restage over time; it’s a very dynamic process,” explains Dr. Patel.

You see, active surveillance is not sitting back and doing nothing; it’s taking an aggressive “watchful eye” approach to assess the unique needs of each patient and only act with surgery when it’s proven to be most effective. Commonly, this would be if the cancer progresses into the intermediate- or high-risk categories.

Dr. Patel proclaims, “The positive thing about detecting a man’s cancer in the low-risk or early stage with prostate cancer screening is that they have options to make informed choices about their health.”

While some people may chose surgery over active surveillance, at least the option is theirs to compared to finding prostate cancer in the later stages when there are less options and less favorable outcomes, too.

The Call for Prostate Screenings

“The key to this new research article is determining who is low- vs. high-risk, and the only way we can do that is finding cancer first. That starts with prostate cancer screenings,” says Dr. Patel.

Without routine screenings, however, a prostate cancer diagnosis can be delayed. And this is currently happening at an alarming rate.

“Today, we’re seeing an increase in the incidence of more aggressive prostate cancers. If prostate cancer is not diagnosed and monitored in early stages, it will advance and can spread to other parts of the body. Then, even with surgery, it’s harder to cure. So promoting screenings to find and monitor the cancer early, and then treat if and when necessary is really the key message here,” says Dr. Patel.

The American Cancer Society recommends prostate cancer screenings for the following populations:

  • Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and have a life expectancy of at least 10 more years.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer, including African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an age younger than 65.
  • Age 40 for men at even higher risk with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age.

Trusting World-Renowned Experts

When it comes to protecting your future, seek help from an expert team, like Dr. Patel’s. In fact, he leads one of the world’s most experienced robotic surgery teams in urology and travels around the world to educate physicians and care for patients.

“We have the most experienced team in the world having completed over 12,000 prostatectomies to treat prostate cancer through a minimally invasive approach,” Dr. Patel humbly states.

“We’re here to support any man who may have received a prostate cancer diagnosis with an expert opinion on whether active surveillance or surgery is the best choice for them.”

Dr. Patel’s Message to You

Dr. Patel concludes, “Talk to your doctors about your prostate cancer screening recommendations, especially if you have risk factors. This could be your primary care provider or urologist. With earlier evaluation and diagnosis, we can support men and save their lives. That’s quite powerful, and it’s our mission here.”

Learn more about Dr. Patel’s expert urology team and the Global Robotics Institute.

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