Over 200,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. The New England Journal of Medicine has just released a new study showing the long-term benefits of two different common methods of prostate cancer treatment, watchful waiting and surgical prostate removal (most commonly done now through a procedure called a robotic prostatectomy).
Watchful waiting is a technique used by doctors where prostate cancer indicators, such as PSA levels, are used to monitor a patient's risk of developing an aggressive form of the disease. In many cases prostate cancer is slow growing, and treatment may not be necessary as the cancer will never progress to a life-threatening point. Robotic prostate surgery takes a different approach to treatment, removing the prostate entirely from the body to eliminate all traces of the cancer.
The study released by the NEJM shows that there is a large survival benefit for those who choose prostate removal as a treatment option; with a 38% lower risk of death versus watchful waiting. This is very important news for individuals who are deciding on an appropriate treatment method. With advancements in prostate surgery due to newer robotic methods, patients often don't experience many of the side-effects associated with traditional prostate removal surgery, such as incontinence and loss of sexual function.