Panel: Some men can delay prostate cancer treatment

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An independent panel of experts convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported that men with low-risk prostate cancer may want to wait to see if their disease progresses before receiving treatment. The panel backed the so-called active monitoring approach to prostate cancer treatment as a way to help men avoid the potential health consequences of treatment, which can include impotence and incontinence. Several studies have suggested that men are over-screened and over-treated for prostate cancer. “It’s clear that many men would benefit from delaying treatment,” said Dr. Patricia Ganz, a cancer prevention expert at the University of California Los Angeles, who chaired the NIH’s state-of-the-science panel on prostate cancer. The problem, said Ganz, is that there is no consensus on the best strategies for monitoring the progress of prostate cancer or on the benchmarks that should be used to determine when treatment is needed. “We need to standardize definitions, group patients by their risks and conduct additional research to determine the best protocols for managing low-risk disease,” she said in a statement. The panel urged NIH for more research to clarify this matter.

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