Washington: A recent study shows that doctors suggest to ‘wait and see’ in thousands of men with localised prostate cancer, where the tumour hasn’t spread beyond the doughnut-shaped gland, reports ANI. Every year more than 47,000 British men are diagnosed with the disease, a rise from 35,000 in 2009, reports Daily Mail.
Under NICE guidelines, a wait and see policy is officially called active surveillance and should be offered as a first option when prostate cancer is considered low risk. This means it is contained in the gland, has a Gleason score below six and the man’s PSA test result is below ten.
The Gleason score is a measure of a cancer’s aggressiveness (in many cases, prostate cancer grows slowly and never causes a health problem). The PSA test measures levels of prostate-specific antigen in the blood, raised level in the test can indicate a problem with the prostate, including cancer. If the patient’s levels are rising, it can mean the cancer is growing.
The idea with active surveillance is that the patient is monitored regularly using PSA tests every few months as well as having biopsies and scans when needed. Earlier also a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has strengthened the case for active surveillance rather than surgery or radiotherapy.
The decade-long study by UK researchers found men with early stage prostate cancer have just as good a chance of being alive after ten years as men who have treatments, including surgery and radiotherapy, which can have unpleasant and sometimes permanent side-effects, including loss of sexual function and incontinence.
According to the charity Prostate Cancer in UK, 30 percent of men eligible for active surveillance choose it after advice from their doctors, but it could soon be many more. An expert in the field Professor Roger Kirby, agrees that active surveillance is important in helping men with early stage prostate cancer, particularly older men with a shorter life expectancy and those with serious health conditions.
However pointing out his significant caveats, he said “You have to be confident you don’t miss the window of opportunity to treat prostate cancer that is progressing. The NHS has guidelines that should help to ensure any changes are spotted, but standards can vary greatly.”