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News1996February › Prostate surgery spreads cancer › February 1996

Prostate surgery spreads cancer

Radical surgery to treat prostate cancer only succeeds in spreading the condition, new research has discovered

Radical surgery to treat prostate cancer only succeeds in spreading the condition, new research has discovered.

Doctors had assumed that the poor survival rate after prostatectomy was because the disease was systemic like the other cancers.

But researchers have discovered that surgeons are accidentally spreading cancer cells to other parts of the body while performing a radical prostatectomy. They monitored 14 consecutive operations, and discovered prostate cells in the blood of 12 of the patients afterwards. Just three had tested positive before surgery.

Researchers have recommended that surgeons should use a surgical technique called "no touch" when carrying out a prostatectomy (The Lancet, December 9, 1995).

Prostatectomy patients tend to have a better survival rate if they have an open prostatectomy (OP) rather than a transurethral prostatectomy (TURP), researchers have concluded. After studying records of 13,815 men who underwent a prostatectomy between 1963 and 1985, they found there was a higher mortality rate among men one year after they had TURP, although there was a better mortality rate with OP one month following surgery.

Researchers from the University of Oxford suggest that the mortality rate is not linked to either procedure per se, but probably to the general fitness of the patients (The Lancet, December 9, 1995).


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