Younger Men Benefit From Surgery

Surgery improves prostate cancer survival

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) New research has suggested that older men diagnosed with prostate cancer may not need any treatment. Now, a 15-year study shows that surgery is the best option for men under the age of 65.

According to recently released findings, surgery reduces the risk that men with prostate cancer - even those with the least aggressive or low-risk tumors - will die within 15 years. Those are the findings of a Swedish research team who followed a group of prostate cancer patients in the Nordic region for 15 years.

Men under the age of 65 benefitted most from surgery. Among older men, there was no significant difference between the surgical group and the group who were simply carefully monitored. The older men are presumed to run a greater risk of dying from other illnesses.

"Surgery may be best option for prostate cancer patients under age 65."

“The study shows that surgery reduces the risk of mortality due to prostate cancer, even for men with low-risk tumors,” says Anna Bill-Axelson, chief physician at the Department of Surgical Sciences at Uppsala University.

“But not everybody benefits from surgery, so individual risks and potential gains have to be assessed on the basis of age, other illnesses, tumour type and patient preferences.”

This is the only randomized investigation thus far to demonstrate that surgery reduces the risk of mortality from prostate cancer.

The study also showed that surgical patients whose tumours had grown beyond the prostate gland were seven times more likely to die of prostate cancer than those whose tumours were limited to the prostate gland. Patients whose cancer has spread greatly benefit from post-surgical treatment such as radiation therapy.

A major study similar to this is currently under way in the US, with results expected soon.

The results were published the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Study

  • Study called “SPCG-4” - Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group Study 4
  • Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic prostate cancer patients followed for 15 years
  • Surgical removal of the prostate gland) was performed on 347 randomly chosen male patients
  • 348 other men had "watchful waiting” (careful monitoring combined with hormone treatment in cases of disease progression)
  • After 15 years, 48 percent of the men in the surgical group had died vs. 58 per cent in the watchful-waiting group
  • 16 percent of surgical group died due to prostate cancer vs. 23 per cent in the watchful-waiting group
  • Risk of cancer spreading beyond the prostate gland was 12 percent lower for those who received surgery
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 16, 2011
Last Updated:
May 1, 2012