Older men with prostate cancer benefit from early treatment

December 21, 2006

Men between 65 and 80 years of age who receive treatment for early-stage, localized prostate cancer appear to live significantly longer than men who do not receive treatment, according to the authors of a retrospective study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Men between 65 and 80 years of age who receive treatment for early-stage, localized prostate cancer appear to live significantly longer than men who do not receive treatment, according to the authors of a retrospective study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Results were published last week in JAMA (2006; 296:2683-93).
 
“For this study we looked back over the existing data of a large population of prostate cancer patients, aged 65 to 80, with small tumors that were at a low or intermediate risk of spreading,” said senior author Katrina Armstrong, MD. “After accounting for all their differences, we discovered that the men-who within 6 months of diagnosis underwent surgery or radiation therapy-were 31% less likely to die than those who did not undergo treatment during that time.”

Researchers acquired data for the study from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Medicare database. Data were included on 44,630 men, 65 to 80 years of age, who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1991 and 1999, and had survived more than a year after diagnosis. All patients were followed until death or Dec. 31, 2002, the end of the study. Of the 44,630 men, 32,022 (71.8%) were actively treated with either surgery or radiation therapy during the first 6 months after diagnosis. The remaining group of 12,608 (28.3%) were classified as having undergone observation and did not undergo surgery, radiation, or hormonal therapy.

During the 12-years of follow-up, researchers found that the patients who received treatment had a 31% lower risk of death. In the observation-only group, 37% of the patients died compared with 23.8% of those in the treatment group.