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One of the first large quality-of- life studies on today’s prostate cancer treatments suggests that for some men, it is a matter of picking your poison and facing potential sexual, urinary or other problems.
Of the choices studied – surgery, standard radiation, hormone therapy or radioactive seeds – the seeds seemed to carry a lower risk of several of these side-effects.
Hormone therapy – when combined with radiation – had a big effect on men’s vitality and sexuality. The radioactive pellets sometimes led to sexual problems too, but more often involved discomfort in urinating.
The research, published in New England Journal of Medicine , does not address the cure rates of different treatments. Moreover, not every treatment is an option for every man. For example, radioactive pellets are generally used only in men with early-stage cancer that is slow-growing.
Nor does the study speak to decisions about whether to treat at all a slow-growing form of cancer that can take 10 or 20 years to become life-threatening.
An 80-year-old man may choose to avoid all treatment and the assorted complications. But for a man of, say, 50, the study provides some insight into the side effects of different options, said Dr William Oh, a Harvard University prostate cancer specialist.
“We’ve just never had the data that put patientsâ€™ side-by-side like this before,” said Dr William Oh.
The researchers surveyed about 1,200 patients, as well as 625 wives who were enrolled at nine US hospitals from March 2003 to March 2006.
Telephone surveys were done before treatment began and at two, six, 12 and 24 months afterward.
Sources: The Times Of India