Prostate cancer: to have surgery or just wait?

A landmark study of one the most agonizing decisions faced by men with early &to=http:// ' target=_blank>prostate cancer Should I have surgery? Or should I wait and see if it spreads? found that for those under 65, operating clearly saves lives, cutting the death rate by more than half.

For men over 65, however, the jury is still out. These men account for the vast majority of prostate cancer patients. Because of the findings, younger men "are much less likely to be encouraged to watch and wait," said Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate cancer at the American Cancer Society.

Prostate cancer is the second-most common type of cancer in American men, after &to=http:// ' target=_blank>skin cancer. About 232,000 new cases and 30,000 deaths are expected this year in the United States, according to the cancer society, informs ABC News.

The new study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers the first long-term data showing that aggressive surgical intervention does indeed save more lives than watchful waiting in patients under 65, and also more effectively prevents prostate tumors from spreading and causing pain. The study was notable for the length of time the researchers followed the nearly 700 patients in Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.

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