For many men diagnosed with prostate cancer, a new long-term study offers a silver lining: They should be able to skip surgery or radiation and instead opt for careful monitoring of the disease, reports STAT News. British researchers found that men with low-grade or intermediate-grade tumors who did so fared about the same over 15 years as those who chose the more radical treatments, per the Wall Street Journal. This doesn't apply to those with high-risk tumors—they still require prompt, aggressive treatment, per CNN.
“Everybody expected that the curves would separate and would start to see a survival advantage for men who receive radical treatment, and that’s not happened,” says Dr. Freddie Hamdy of the University of Oxford, a co-author of the study that was published over the weekend in the New England Journal of Medicine. “That was a big surprise.” The study tracked the progress of 1,600 men who agreed to be assigned to one of three camps: surgery, radiation, or monitoring.
“There was no difference in prostate cancer mortality at 15 years between the groups,” Dr. Stacy Loeb of NYU Langone Health, who was not involved in the study, tells STAT News. Another outside expert, Matthew Smith of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, tells the Journal it is "truly a landmark study in prostate cancer." Another good-news stat for all involved: No matter which treatment course was chosen, the survival rate was high, around 97%. (Read more prostate cancer stories.)