Over the past decade several advanced technologies have promised to minimize the side effects of treating prostate cancer.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the increased use of the newer treatments in many of those patients.
Restaurant owner Sandy Schondelmayer has prostate cancer. For now, he only has minor symptoms of the disease.
“I can deal with my minor symptoms now, and I don't want to take the risk of the side effects from surgery,” Schondelmayer said.
Doctor Brent K. Hollenbeck from the University of Michigan said not all prostate cancers are created equally and some are more biologically aggressive than others.
New technologies like robotic surgery can lessen the side effects. Increased magnification helps surgeons to more precisely remove the cancer and spare normal tissue. Another new technology used is called intensity modulated radiation therapy also known as IRMT.
"The idea is you can give higher doses to the prostate and the cancer without necessarily affecting the surrounding tissues as much,” Hollenbeck said.
Among prostate cancer patients at low risk of dying from the disease, use of robotic surgery or IRMT increased from 24 to 27 percent over a five-year study period. The study author says the technologies are more expensive without showing substantial benefit.
“It has the potential to sort of amplify the financial implications for the U.S. health care system,” Hollenbeck said.
Schondelmayer said he has forgone those treatments in favor of just keeping a watchful eye on his prostate cancer.
"I keep myself in shape, I try to watch my diet, and I thought maybe I'll be lucky and live into the 90s,” Schondelmayer said. “The cancer part does not change that outlook."