Prostate Gland Cancer Surgery Is An Option For Older Men
Men over the age of seventy have traditionally been given radiation or hormone treatment for prostate gland cancer and have been considered too old for surgery to be an option. A recently released study looking at a large group of men in Canada has however suggested that it might just be time to tear down this arbitrary age barrier.
Although surgery is often recommended as a cure for prostate gland cancer, many men are currently denied this option simply on the grounds of age and most surgeons will not carry out prostate surgery on men over the age of seventy. But things may be about to change.
In a recently published study death and complication rates were examined for more than 11,000 men who underwent prostate cancer surgery in Canada between 1990 and 1999, including a number of men over the age of seventy. Indeed, the oldest man in the study group was seventy-nine.
The study, which concentrated on the thirty days immediately following surgery, found that mortality did increase slightly, but not significantly, with age and that overall the mortality rate was about 0.5 percent. In total, fifty three men in the study group died within thirty days of surgery and a further 2,246 experienced a variety of complications.
The study also found however that there was a clear link between mortality and pre-existing medical conditions, in particular a history of stroke or heart disease. Heart problems also accounted for a significant number of those men who experienced post-operative complications.
So does this mean that we should consider dropping this seemingly arbitrary age barrier when it comes to prostate cancer surgery?
Well, although there is some discussion over whether or not the study group results would be repeated in a more ethnically diverse group, such as that likely to found in the United States, the answer would appear to be yes. In essence, those expressing caution on grounds of ethnicity are effectively suggesting that a higher proportion of Black men in the study group might have changed the results. However, although prostate cancer is more prevalent amongst Black men, the true difference in the rate of prostate cancer seen in Caucasian and Black men may have a surprising cause.
Whether or not you should have prostate cancer surgery should have far more to do with your health and a lot less to do with your age. Regardless of age, if you have an aggressive cancer, but are otherwise in good health, then surgery may well be a good option. On the other hand, if your cancer is not particularly aggressive and you have other medical problems, such as a heart condition, then it may be safer to consider alternative radiotherapy or hormonal treatments.
It should not be forgotten too that there are some general complications resulting from surgery which do increase with age and there are also long-term complications such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction which must also be considered.
In all cases you should of course consult your doctor and be guided by him on the treatment that is best to meet your own medical circumstances. If, however, your doctor simply says that you're too old for surgery to be an option then it might be worth questioning this advice, or even getting a second opinion.
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