Older urologists more likely to treat low-risk prostate cancer

By WEEK Producer

July 14, 2014 Updated Jul 14, 2014 at 5:33 PM CDT

A new study is showing older urologists who are further out from training are more likely to treat low-risk prostate cancer, rather than implement "watchful waiting," which is an alternative approach.

University of Texas researchers studied more than 12,000 men, 66-years-old and older, who were diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.

Eighty percent of them received treatment. Twenty percent were observed.

They found urologists who treat high-risk prostate cancer and had graduated from medical school less recently were less likely to manage low-risk prostate cancer with observation.

Researchers say the diagnosing urologist plays a big role in treatment selection because he or she is the first to convey the message to the patient and discuss management options.

"Cancer is a frightening word, but the fact is a low-risk prostate cancer is not the same thing as a metastatic lung cancer and so, there are some cancers where folks are going to live with the disease and die of something else and not really have any problem related to the disease," said Dr. Ryan Berglund of the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Berglund says the field has advanced and observation is a real treatment option.

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