New findings indicate that, when it comes to younger men suffering from high-grade prostate cancers, survival rates are higher when these cancers are treated with surgery.
Radiation Therapy Found Not as Beneficial
High-grade prostate cancers need to be treated as aggressively as they are. This often means highly targeted approaches that include treatments such as radiation therapy and surgeries like radical prostatectomy. Yet in cases where men under the age of 60 are diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancers, it turns out that surgery is often the better option when long-term survival rates are taken into account.
Those are the findings of researchers from the University of Maryland, who discovered that men diagnosed with prostate cancers on the Gleason scale between 8 and 10 were 63 percent less likely to die from prostate cancer if treated with radical prostatectomy instead of radiation therapy. The study’s results, which were published in the Journal of Urology, examined more than 2200 men under the age of 60 who were diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer between 2004 and 2014.
The Advantages of Surgery
Why was surgery found to be so much more advantageous when compared to radiation therapy? Researchers gave a number of possibilities for the occurrence, with three being the most likely. The first is that the true extent of a patient’s prostate cancer can be revealed through pathology evaluation, which allows for more appropriate adjuvant therapies following a surgery. Secondly, radical prostatectomy directly reduces tumor volume, which may play a role in improving response to other therapies.
Finally, it is typically far easier to detect a biochemical recurrence after surgery, especially when compared to after radiation therapy — even when that radiation therapy was combined with hormone treatments such as androgen deprivation therapy. Early detection is, of course, a major factor in subsequent treatment and therefore informs the likelihood of survivability as well.
The results of the new study are certainly encouraging, especially for younger men who may be facing a prostate cancer diagnosis. While the side effects of radical prostatectomy can be distressing, especially when it comes to incontinence and erectile dysfunction, they’re also side effects from many other non-surgical treatments. Knowing that you’re getting the right treatment in order to give you the best chances at survival often makes risking these side effects worth it.