Cancer -- Hurry Up and Wait

I posted a study last summer about the unnecessary use of conventional treatments -- surgery or radiotherapy -- for many men diagnosed with a low-grade form of prostate cancer. Nevertheless, few men at low risk opt for close observation of their health. More often than not, they choose to be unnecessarily overtreated, according to a new study.

Of the nearly 1,900 men with prostate cancer, researchers discovered, in about 16 percent of those cases, the cancer was limited to the prostate and had very little chance of spreading, thus giving patients the option of close monitoring of the tumor rather than treating it aggressively.

Among the 310 men who had the opportunity to wait and treat their conditions only when warranted, unfortunately, only 28 patients chose the safer, gentler course of treatment. No surprise, older men (over age 70) were far more likely to wait for their conditions to worsen than those under age 63.

Fact is, most prostate tumors grow so slowly, they pose little threat to a man's health. And, older men diagnosed with prostate cancer can die from other causes before their cancer can ever harm them. The flipside of that argument -- aggressive cancer treatment -- among the very young, however, can be very problematic. And, in some cases, scientists believe patients may be harmed more by the cure than the disease itself.

Studies like these certainly give more credence than ever to the safer, self-healing protocol formulated by Dr. Larry Clapp.

USA Today February 22, 2007

CBS News February 22, 2007

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