Removing cancerous prostate ups survival rate, study says
No comparisons made to other treatments
July 1, 1997
Web posted at: 10:37 p.m. EDT (0237 GMT)
CHICAGO (CNN) -- A new study suggests that having a cancerous
prostate removed before the disease spreads improves a man's
chances of surviving by 60 percent to 97 percent.
But the researchers at the University of Miami School of
Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Miami
urged caution before choosing such a procedure.
"One should be extremely cautious about using the present
observations in making inferences about relative treatment
effectiveness," study author Arnon Krongrad writes in the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
The prostate provides lubrication to the urethra and
supplies semen for ejaculation. Prostate cancer afflicts
nearly 10 out of 100,000 American males, and is the most
commonly diagnosed cancer in U.S. men.
It is the second leading cause of death among men with
The researchers analyzed data on 3,626 patients in nine
regions of the United States. Each had had his prostate gland
removed, a procedure known as a radical prostatectomy.
Post-surgery quality-of-life wasn't studied
Researchers found that patients whose cancer had not spread
and who had normal-appearing cells had "excellent
disease-specific survival, which is associated
with relatively good overall survival."
Between 60 percent and 97 percent of the patients lived at
least 10 years after the surgery, depending on the stage and
grade of the cancer. Some prostate cancers are more
aggressive than others.
The researchers found no geographical variations in mortality
rates from the disease. But older men and black men had
worse overall 10-year survival rates, although that could not
necessarily be attributed to the cancer.
The study did not compare surgical survival rates to those of
other treatments such as radiation therapy and "watchful
waiting," or no treatment. Some radiation patients have
incontinence and impotence after treatment, although it
usually takes years to develop.
The study also did not look at quality-of-life issues such as
side-effects. Up to 35 percent of men are permanently
incontinent after prostate surgery, and as many as 60 percent
A spokesman for the American Cancer Society said the life
expectancy for surgery patients is, in general, longer than
for patients who have other treatments.
The reason, he said, is that doctors don't refer patients for
surgery unless they are younger, have less-advanced cancer
and are in overall good health.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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