Swedish researchers have found that untreated prostate cancer often becomes more aggressive and lethal as the years go by than previously thought.
Researchers at Ãrebro University Hospital said although only a small percentage of prostate cancer patients whose disease is diagnosed at an early stage die within 15 years, little is known beyond that timeframe. So the researchers
studied 223 patients with early-stage prostate cancer, who were initially untreated, for an average of 21 years.
They found that, eventually, 39 of the patients experienced a more active form of the disease. More disturbing, their mortality rate from prostate cancer increased from 15 per 1000 person-years during the first 15 years to 44 per 1000 person-years beyond 15 years.
Our data may be important for counseling and clinical management of individual patients, the researchers wrote. The probability of progression to a more aggressive and lethal (form of the disease) may increase after long-term follow-up of prostate cancers that are diagnosed at an early stage and initially left without treatment.
The findings support early radical treatment of patients with long life expectancy, they said.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International