MASSDEVICE ON CALL — A Mayo Clinic study of prostate cancer treatment found that active surveillance for low-risk patients was prescribed in frequently, and that physicians tend to lean toward their own fields when recommending more aggressive treatment.
"While active surveillance is widely regarded as an effective strategy for managing low-risk prostate cancer, a Mayo Clinic study of 643 urologists and radiation oncologists found that only 21% of physicians studied recommended the strategy while 47% recommended surgery and 32% recommended radiation therapy," according to a press release.
Furthermore, the study found that radiation oncologists tended to recommend radiation while most urologists recommended surgery for low-risk patients.
The debate over the proper treatment of low-risk prostate cancer patients has grabbed headlines several times this year and contributed to a slide in active treatments.
In May the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force panel advised physicians against using a common prostate cancer screening tool, the PSA or prostate-specific antigen test, in monitoring men’s health over concerns about the dangers of aggressive treatment in patients who are asymptomatic and whose cancer may have remained neutral without intervention.
The guidance created outrage among several groups, including the Large Urology Group Practice Assn., which warned that "failing to detect cancer early will create a public health catastrophe in 5-10 years."
In July the New England Journal of Medicine published a highly anticipated decade-long study comparing surgical prostate cancer treatment to "watchful waiting," the authors of which concluded that the surgical approach "may be neither necessary nor effective" for men diagnosed with early stages of prostate cancer.
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