Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, and will directly or indirectly effect most of us in our lifetime. With new research showing that half of prostate cancer patients undergo treatment without knowing their treatment options, it is more important than ever to talk openly about this disease and the full range of choices available when deciding upon treatment.
The recent survey* showed that a surprisingly large proportion of prostate cancer patients undergo treatment without being told about or researching for themselves, the full range of treatment options available to them. The majority of these patients are steered towards surgery, which may not be necessary, is an invasive procedure and can result in serious side effects including incontinence and impotence.
Most of the men surveyed, who had all received treatment following a prostate cancer diagnosis, were given just one or two treatment options when they went for their consultation. Surgery – otherwise known as radical prostatectomy – was the treatment option most commonly recommended. This has been the ‘go-to’ treatment for many years and many urologists will still present this as the first option, despite the development of other highly effective prostate cancer treatments that offer better quality of life results. In many cases these other less invasive treatments with fewer side effects, such as LDR brachytherapy, may have been a more suitable treatment but were not presented as an option at consultation.
Saheed Rashid, Managing Director of BXTAccelyon, one of the leading providers of LDR brachytherapy to clinics and hospitals globally, was concerned about the survey’s findings: “The data confirms that too many patients are currently being offered radical prostatectomy, a serious operation to completely remove the prostate gland and surrounding tissue, without also being advised on less intrusive alternatives with equally high success rates.”
Alternative treatment options to surgery have been supported by recent studies. The ASCENDE-RT study, for example, found that low dose rate brachytherapy, in conjunction with hormone therapy and whole pelvis radiotherapy, offered highly favourable outcomes with reduced side effects.
Respondents to the survey had advice to share with other men who have received a prostate cancer diagnosis. This included “check all the options”; “consider all information, and post-procedure side effects, and how this may affect your quality of life”; and “seek as much information as you can from as many sources. Try if possible not to make a knee-jerk decision”.
Although prostate cancer will affect 1 in 7 men it is highly intimate which may be stopping men from talking openly about the disease, its symptoms and discussing its treatment. Removing the taboo by continuing to raise awareness and creating dialogue around prostate cancer is the key to ensuring that in future men are armed with the knowledge they need to make a fully informed decision about the treatment that is right for them.
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* Survey of 250 men carried out by BXTAccelyon