Opting To Track, Not Treat, Early Prostate Cancer

Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 --- 7:45 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Each year, nearly a quarter of a million men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

In most cases, what the men have is an early form of prostate cancer that is low risk. And yet, most of those men opt for immediate treatment such as surgery or radiation, risking serious and long-lasting side effects, such as impotence or incontinence.

But now, a government panel of health specialists says: Not so fast. They want more of those men offered the option of delaying treatment until regular check-ups show it's really needed.

What they're advocating is called "active surveillance." It's much more aggressive than watchful waiting — men get regular scans, blood tests and biopsies to check the tumor. Active surveillance is designed to monitor men closely enough that they can get treatment quickly if it looks like they'll need it, well before any symptoms would begin.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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