Doctors have long encouraged older men with early-stage, low-risk prostate cancer to skip treatment until tests showed the cancer was growing aggressively. A new study suggests significant benefit from treating men over 65 surgically or with radiation therapy.

Using national cancer databases, researchers examined the overall survival of 44,630 men with low- and intermediate-stage prostate cancer. Patients aged 65 to 80 were diagnosed with the disease between 1991 and 1999. Over a 12-year period, 37 percent of the men with prostate cancer who took the watchful waiting approach died, compared with 24 percent of those who chose active treatment.

The study,, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted by researchers at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania.


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