Patient’s story: Barbara (Switzerland)
My name is Barbara. I’m 34 years old and I live in Berne, Switzerland. For over six months, I already had problems walking. Once, I collapsed duringRead more
*Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer, with around 400,000 new cases every year in Europe. And Active Surveillance (AS) is increasingly considered as an alternative treatment strategy for patients with low-risk prostate cancer.
“We found that the Quality of Life of men on Active Surveillance was similar to a group of men without prostate cancer.” This was the finding by the team of Dr. Lionne Venderbos of the Department of Urology at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam (NL), when they compared the Quality of Life (QoL) of patients who chose AS and those who opted for immediate curative treatment, against the QoL of a reference group of men without prostate cancer.
What is Active Surveillance?
Active Surveillance is a treatment strategy that involves close monitoring of patients diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer. It aims to protect the patient’s QoL by delaying radical treatments such as immediate curative treatment, unless there are changes in the test results which show the condition is getting worse.
What is involved with immediate curative treatment?
Immediate curative treatment involves surgery such as radical prostatectomy (RP) which is the removal of the entire prostate gland, and radiotherapy (RT) which is a treatment involving the use of high-energy radiation commonly used to treat cancer. RP and RT can cause distressing side effects such as incontinence or erectile dysfunction.
Dr. Venderbos led the study comparing the QoL of 427 patients diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer aged between 66 and 69. They were followed up between 5 and 10 years after diagnosis. 121 patients chose AS, 74 patients had surgery and 232 patients opted for RT. A reference group of 204 men without prostate cancer were also studied.
The study concluded that choosing AS instead of immediate curative treatment resulted to a better overall QoL for men with low-risk prostate cancer. In fact, the QoL was about the same as for men without cancer.
The study was supported by the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Read the press release here.
Factor in your Quality of Life
Dr. Venderbos concludes, “When choosing treatment, it is important that men think about the potential side-effects that are related to immediate curative treatment, like becoming incontinent or losing the ability to have an erection. When considering active surveillance they should try to imagine whether living with untreated cancer would cause any stress, or that the follow-up visits lead to stress instead of reassurance. Balancing the advantages and disadvantages per type of treatment, will make that a man chooses that type of treatment that fits his wishes and preferences best”.