Surgery may not be the best first option for many prostate cancer patients

Prostate cancer patients who are considered low-risk may be having surgery without fully understanding that there are other options, according to a new Canadian report.

The Prostate Cancer Control in Canada: A System Performance Spotlight Report, was produced by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

The report suggests that almost half of patients in some provinces who are considered low-risk may be opting for life-changing surgery when that may not be the best treatment option. According to the study, “these patients probably did not require immediate treatment and could have been safely managed with active surveillance or watchful waiting.”

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Surgery can carry with it lifelong challenges with incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

Where men live can also have an impact on how they are treated when diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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“While the cancer community has suspected wide variations in treatment, this is the first time we’ve been able to investigate it using pan-Canadian data,” said physician Heather Bryant, vice-president of cancer control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

Close to 24,000 men will be diagnosed this year with prostate cancer, according to Prostate Cancer Canada.

“Treating prostate cancer involves helping men select the right treatment option for the best outcome balanced with understanding the potential side effects of treatment, which can significantly affect men’s quality of life, even as they survive their disease.”

In the report, some Canadian men who have battled prostate cancer, recounted their personal stories.

“My experience was that I didn’t learn about the side effects or anything until really after the treatment,” an anonymous patient from Manitoba was quoted in the report. “So I feel like I was cheated in some way. Not being offered you know, something up front before I got the treatments.”

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Prostate cancer patients also waited longer for radiation therapy than patients with breast, colorectal or lung cancers in all reporting provinces, according to the report.

The report authors recommend that patients need to be educated and work with healthcare providers to review and understand all treatment options and potential impacts.

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