Prostate cancer treatment overused in some older patients: study

February 27, 2012

Treatment is not always warranted for older men with prostate cancer and a short life expectancy, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the Feb. 27 Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Treatment can do more harm than good in some instances," said senior author on the study Cary Gross, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine. "Among men who are older and have less aggressive forms of , their cancer is unlikely to progress or cause them harm in their remaining years."

Gross and his team analyzed nine years of and found that over the past decade, there has been a trend towards higher use of for prostate cancer among men with certain types of tumors and a short life expectancy. The study included 39,270 patients between the ages of 67 and older.

These results suggest that cancer treatment was increasingly aggressive in patients who had the lowest likelihood of seeing clinical benefits, Gross said, noting that while not treating potentially fatal cancer can reflect poor-quality care, aggressively managing disease that is unlikely to progress puts patients at risk for complications and increases costs without medical benefits.

"We found that the percentage of men who received treatment for their prostate cancer treatments increased over time from 61.2% to 67.6% from 1998 through 2007," said Gross, who is a member of Yale Cancer Center. "However, we were surprised to find that the biggest increase was among men with moderate-risk prostate cancer who had the shortest life expectancy. On the other hand, decreased among men with low-risk tumors and longer life expectancy."

Treating patients with shorter life expectancy may add costs or complications without contributing to quality of life, he said. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network practice guidelines in oncology recommend actively monitoring patients as an alternative to medication for patients with less aggressive tumor types and shorter life expectancies.

Gross said that the use of cancer therapies should be guided by clinical evidence and patient preferences. "Future work should explore how better to incorporate both cancer characteristics and patient into decision making," said Gross.

Explore further: Age a big factor in prostate cancer deaths

More information: Arch. Inter. Med. Vol. 172, No. 4 (February 27, 2012)

Related Stories

Age a big factor in prostate cancer deaths

October 19, 2011
Contrary to common belief, men age 75 and older are diagnosed with late-stage and more aggressive prostate cancer and thus die from the disease more often than younger men, according to a University of Rochester analysis ...

More aggressive treatment not necessary for men with a family history of prostate cancer

October 5, 2011
Approximately 10-20 percent of prostate cancer patients have a family history of the disease. There are three major factors that are used to evaluate the extent and aggressiveness of prostate cancer, help make treatment decisions, ...

Queen's pioneers prostate cancer breakthrough

September 19, 2011
Scientists at Queen's University have pioneered a new combination treatment for prostate cancer. The treatment, which has been successful in phase one of trials, will now be tested for efficacy in a second phase.

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.