The vast majority of Swedish men who have low-risk cancer are choosing active surveillance, which involves regular check-ups and blood tests—and they are likely to live just as long as those who opt for treatment, such as radiotherapy or surgery.
Up to 91 per cent of men in Sweden diagnosed with very low-risk prostate cancer, and 74 per cent with low-risk cancer, are choosing active surveillance over treatment, say researchers from New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
The researchers had analysed the response to the cancer diagnosis of 32,518 Swedish men over five years.
The response in the US to a prostate cancer diagnosis is invariably aggressive, with immediate treatment recommended, but the ‘take home’ message for Americans is that they, too, could benefit from a ‘watchful waiting’ approach, say the researchers.
Other studies have found that the life expectancy of those who opt for treatment and those who don’t is around the same, although those who have their cancer treated are likely to suffer from some life-destroying side effect, such as incontinence or impotence, said lead researcher Stacy Loeb.