Men facing prostate cancer are often told they can take a wait-and-see approach to cancer treatment because it is long believed many prostate cancers are very slow growing. If you are in good health and active, watchful waiting may be the wrong approach.
Mounting research has shown that 50-percent or more of prostate cancer cases turn out to be aggressive and end up spreading.
That is why the prostate cancer experts at the CyberKnife Center of Miami, a premier radiation cancer treatment center in South Florida say, “Most often it’s better not to wait. Do not risk it. Get treated right away before it is too late!” Dr. Mark Pomper, board-certified radiation therapist and medical director at CyberKnife Miami says, “We know when prostate cancer is found and treated early with CyberKnife the survival rates are upwards of 98-percent. Those are solid statistics. Cancer does not always follow an expected path. If you have a chance to treat and kill the cancer, we believe you should do it as soon as possible so the cancer does not kill you.” He adds, “I have had prostate cancer patients that took a wait-and-see approach and by the time they came to us, the cancer had grown significantly, making treatment harder and sometimes we could not treat them at all. So, we do not recommend prostate cancer patients wait. We say treat it and get cancer behind you. That will give you your greatest chance of beating prostate cancer.”
Early Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men with the exception of skin cancer, according to cancer.net. Sixty percent of cases are diagnosed in men older than sixty-five.
About 84-percent of prostate cancers are found in the early stage. That is when the cancer is localized in the prostate and has not spread to nearby organs. The five-year survival rate for these prostate cancers is excellent with treatment. As the cancer spreads to other parts of the body the five-year survival rate drops significantly to 31-percent.
Types of Wait-and-See Approaches
For background, there are two types of approaches under the wait-and-see umbrella. The “watchful waiting” approach means you would opt not to treat the cancer, but instead to observe your body for any symptoms like pain. And if you notice a change, you will tell your doctor.
You could also take a slightly more aggressive approach called “active surveillance,” meaning you undergo routine testing like biopsies, imaging tests, the prostate-specific antigen or PSA blood tests, and digital rectal exams to track the cancer’s growth.
These wait-and-see approaches may be right for a very specific type of prostate cancer patient, who is too old or too sick to benefit from treatment. However, invasive, repeated biopsies also come with certain risks including infection, bleeding, and trouble urinating.
What the Studies Say about Wait-and-See Approaches
When comparing active surveillance to treatment with radiation, men who opt for radiation treatment will find comfort in knowing it can stop the spread of cancer and/or it may stay in remission longer – leading to a better overall quality of life.
“If you have a cancerous ticking time bomb in your prostate, you do not want to live in fear and wonder everyday if it has spread or is going to spread. And you do not want to have regrets if it does, like many patients do. So again, we believe you should seek out treatment as soon as possible,” Dr. Pomper says.
Keep in mind, if you are told you are in the low-risk category for the cancer spreading, that may not always be the case. Low risk is not one-size-fits-all.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine, men diagnosed with “low-risk” prostate cancer are increasingly refusing more aggressive treatment in favor of a watch-and-wait approach.
In 2010, just 14.5 percent of men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer chose “active surveillance.” In 2014, that number rose to 42.1 percent.
This can be dangerous for some men.
Determining which patients truly fall into the “low-risk” category is more complicated than tests can reveal.
For example, some men deemed at low risk following a biopsy, discovered their cancer was more aggressive after their prostates were removed.
This must be considered when determining whether to treat or not treat.
Some zones of the prostate biopsied may indicate low risk, while other areas not biopsied indicate the cancer is more aggressive but were not accessed.
These patients are at greater risk of the disease spreading.
More modern techniques in imaging, including MRI-guided biopsies, may provide a more thorough and accurate diagnosis, but many men are less likely to have the procedure done due to the cost and insurance often does not pay.
So hopefully you understand now why the wait-and-see approaches could be risky.
CyberKnife Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Dr. Pomper advises any patient thinking about a wait-and-see approach to get a second opinion, especially if they can be treated with CyberKnife, a noninvasive radiation treatment system using technology called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). It delivers radiation directly to the prostate leaving the healthy surrounding tissue unharmed.
“Many men fear radiation, but CyberKnife treatment is very, very precise,” explains Dr. Mark Pomper in a YouTube video. “The radiation beams always stay on target. They hit only the tumor with pinpoint precision and move with the prostate as it moves naturally along with the patient during a 30-minute treatment.”
That reduces the risk of side effects and reduces risk of impotence and urinary incontinence. Sexual function remains the same for most patients after CyberKnife treatment which is especially important for most men.
Most patients tolerate CyberKnife treatment very well. Any side effects can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Near Me
Worldwide and right here in South Florida, hundreds of thousands of patients have been treated successfully for prostate cancer using CyberKnife technology.
We will get you treated as effectively, safely, easily, and quickly as possible. CyberKnife requires just five radiation therapy sessions compared to forty-two with other types of radiation.
This is crucial for men who want to get treated, get cancer behind them, and get on with life. We are here to help you do that.
So why wait?
If you would like to find out more about prostate cancer treatment with CyberKnife, call us at 305-279-2900 or go to our prostate cancer website now for more information.