Elderly men may not benefit from aggressive treatment for prostate cancer, a new study suggests.
Even though prostate cancer can eventually be fatal, it often progresses so slowly that many men -- particularly those over 75 -- are more likely to die from some other disease. And aggressive treatments such as radical prostatectomy or radiation, while eradicating the cancer, can have negative effects on quality of life, including urinary incontinence and impotence.
Conservative treatments -- such as hormone therapy or so-called "watchful waiting" -- may preserve quality of life, but might not be appropriate for aggressive cancer that progresses quickly. Current guidelines suggest that men aged 75 or older may not benefit from screening. But many older men continue to be screened.
Screening and treatment for prostate cancer may be worthwhile for healthy older men who have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, but men over 75 who have non-aggressive prostate cancer will often die from something other than prostate cancer.