The idea of "watchful waiting" as a method of dealing with prostate cancer has gained more ground following a study in Sweden, which has the world's fourth highest death rate from the cancer.
Despite its prevalence, researchers warn against early and aggressive treatment of prostate cancer, which they say has a limited success rate.
Patients with locally advanced cancer, however, need aggressive therapy to reduce their chances of dying from the disease.
Researchers from Orebro Medical Centre studied 642 patients with an average of 72 who had prostate cancer. The cancer accounted for 201 of the 541 deaths reported in the group (JAMA, 1997; 277: 467-71).
Cancer experts in the UK have advised against routine screening for prostate cancer in a National Health Service report. Two out of three men with a positive PSA (prostate specific antigen) test will not have cancer, and so would undergo unnecessary investigation and anxiety.
For more information, see the WDDTY Guide to Men's Health and vol 6, no 4.