Some Men Decide To Pass On Treatment For Prostate Cancer
Posted August 18, 2006
LIVONIA, MI — In the United States, one out of every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. There are new questions about how to treat this disease. Some men are opting for no treatment at all.
Three years ago, Scott Fogler learned he had prostate cancer. However, he has never had any surgery or radiation to treat it.
The 66-year-old has low-risk cancer, which means it's unlikely the disease will ever become life-threatening. Instead of undergoing treatment, Fogler chose to keep an eye on it. Every three months, he's tested to see if the cancer has progressed.
"It might be that I might never need treatment," he said.
However, there is a small chance the disease could become deadly, which is why many men choose treatment.
"That is a possibility, and patients are made aware, that the reality is it's a very very uncommon event," said Dr. John Wei, of the University of Michigan.
Treatments like surgery and radiation can lead to problems with sexual function and bladder control. Some doctors believe many men are being treated too soon. Wei led a study that found more than half of low-risk patients received surgery and radiation when a wait-and-see approach was a reasonable option.
Fogler is happy with his decision. If his disease does become more aggressive, he said he will choose treatment.
"But until that time, I'm really quite comfortable," Fogler said.
Health experts said all men over the age of 40 should get annual prostate screening, and all decisions about treatment should be made with the help of an urologist.