VA health care successfully reduces 'rush to treatment' rates for low-risk prostate cancer
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Credit: NYU Langone Health

Record numbers of American veterans diagnosed with non-aggressive prostate cancer are heeding the advice of international medical experts and opting out of immediate surgery or radiation to treat their cancer.

Instead, according to a study led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, its Perlmutter Cancer Center, and the Manhattan campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, increasing numbers of these men are electing to postpone additional therapy unless their symptoms worsen — a passive practice called watchful waiting — or they are choosing so-called active surveillance. This program relies on regular check-ups, including blood tests, physical exams, and the occasional needle sampling of prostate tissue to check for any signs of a tumor getting worse, such as fast growth, before aggressive treatment is considered. The new study, summarized in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) online May 15, is one of the largest studies of its kind, involving a review of the medical records of 125,083 former servicemen, mostly over the age of 55, who were newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer between 2005 and 2015.

It was during this time, researchers say, that widespread use of blood

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