Prostate Problem Guide
Prostate Gland Cancer Surgery Is An Option For Older Men
Prostate gland cancer is traditionally treated by surgery, radiation therapy or hormone treatment. However, many surgeons consider that surgery is not a suitable option once a man passes the age of seventy. But, is this about to change?
A recently published study looked at death and complication rates in a study group of more than 11,000 men who underwent prostate cancer surgery between 1990 and 1999 in Canada. This study included a number of men over the age of seventy, with the oldest man in the group being seventy-nine.
Concentrating on the thirty days immediately after surgery, the study found that mortality increased slightly, although not significantly, with age and that the overall mortality rate was about 0.5 percent. Fifty three men in the study group died within thirty days following surgery and an additional 2,246 men experienced a variety of complications.
The study also showed a clear link between mortality and pre-existing medical conditions, especially a history of heart disease or stroke. Heart problems were also seen in a significant number of those men who experienced post-operative complications.
So does this indicate that we should drop this age barrier when it comes to prostate cancer surgery?
CBC: complete blood count; includes the white blood count (WBC), hematocrit (HCT) and the platelet count (PLT).
HOT FLASH: the sudden sensation of warmth in the face, neck and upper body; a side effect of many forms of hormone therapy.
INVASIVE: requiring an incision or the insertion of an instrument or substance into the body.
TRANSITION: change; for example, the transition zone of the prostate is the area of the prostate closest to the urethra and has features that distinguish it from the much larger peripheral zone.
Well, the answer would appear to be yes, although there is some discussion about whether the study group results would be repeated in a more ethnically diverse group, such as that likely to found in the United States.
The caution as far as ethnicity is concerned arises out of the fact that a higher proportion of Black men in the study group might have altered the results. However, despite the fact that prostate cancer is more prevalent amongst Black men, there is also considerable discussion about just why this difference exists between Caucasian and Black men.
The decision to have prostate cancer surgery needs to have far more to do with your health and a lot less to do with your age. If you have an aggressive cancer, but are otherwise in good health, then surgery may well be a good option, regardless of your age. But, if your cancer is not particularly aggressive and you are suffering from, or have a history of, other medical problems, such as a heart condition, then it might be wiser and safer to consider radiotherapy or hormonal treatments.
It should also be remembered that there are a number of general complications arising out of prostate gland cancer surgery which do increase with age and there are also some long-term complications such as sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence which must also be considered.
You should of course discuss your options with your doctor and be guided by him on the best treatment to meet your own circumstances. However, if your doctor tells you that you are too old for surgery then you might like to consider questioning this advice, or even getting a second opinion.