Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No single treatment preferred for prostate cancer

It comes as no surprise to many of us who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer that there is no single treatment accepted by the medical community as the best.

There's surgical removal, radiation, and hormone therapy. There's even watchful waiting, which is really no treatment at all but a way of monitoring the tumor for signs of growing.

A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reviewed all the treatments and could not recommend one over the others because of a lack of research in prostate cancer.

When I researched what type of treatment I should undergo for protate cancer, I came to my conclusion partly based on the stage of the tumor. It's troubling that the actual reason that men have so many options is because there isn't the clinical data available for better treatment decisions.

"Information is really lacking to determine whether overall one treatment is more effective and preferred," Dr. Timothy Wilt of from the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research is quoted.

The reason for this lack of data:

  • Lack of financing
  • Lack of advocacy
  • Reluctance of men to participate in clinical trials
  • A long time for tumors to turn deadly

The International Herald Tribune notes that US government spending on prostate cancer lags behind breast cancer research. The National Cancer Institute funded $305.6 million for prostate cancer compared to $551.1 million for breast cancer in 2007.

I'm not crying foul that prostate cancer is more deserving than breast cancer. They both should be adequately funded so men and women can both make the best choices about their cancer treatment.

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