New options for men with prostate cancer

PHILADELPHIA - September 20, 2013

The tests can help many men who face a tough decision: whether to treat with surgery or radiation or to watch and wait, because the tumor could be growing very slowly and not pose a risk.

This year, about 238,000 men will find out they have prostate cancer and it is estimated that half of those cases are low-risk.

But, Cleveland Clinic doctor Eric Klein said that, until recently, the majority of men with low-grade cancers chose to be treated - even if they didn't always need it.

The treatments can lead to side effects such as incontinence.

"Urologists have been criticized for being too aggressive in treating them and not embracing active surveillance," Dr. Klein said.

That active surveillance, called "watchful waiting," can spark anxiety.

Now, two new genomic tests may make a difference. They can help determine the aggressiveness of a cancer, once it is diagnosed with a biopsy.

"These tests allow us to improve both the physician's and patient's confidence that, yes, they have a low-grade cancer and it's safe to watch," said Dr. Klein.

Or, if it shows the potential to grow and spread quickly, then it re-enforces the need for treatment.

There are similar tests for breast and colon cancer. The tests or prostate cancer just came out in May.

They are expensive, but the hope is price will drop and insurance will cover the cost.

If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, ask your doctor if this could help you.

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