Treating older men who have early-stage prostate cancer and separate health problems with surgery or radiation could cause more harm than good.
In many cases prostate cancer is too slow-growing to cause a major threat, Medical News Today reported.
A research team followed 140,553 who were 66 years of age or older and suffering from early-stage prostate cancer.
The researchers used a measurement called the Charlson index to determine the severity of the men's conditions. The index predicts the 10-year mortality risk for the patient by taking into account other health problems.
The participants who had major medical conditions such as "heart attack, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes" did not live not live any longer if given aggressive prostate cancer treatment. The men who received these treatments were also at a higher risk of "impotence, urinary incontinence and bowel problems as a result of surgery or radiation," Medical News Today reported.
"In the past, we've relied on the basic argument that older and sicker men are much more likely to die of other things besides their prostate cancer that exposing them to aggressive treatment, and its debilitating side effects is a poor gamble" study leader Timothy Daskivich, a UCLA Robert Wood Johnson fellow, told Medical News Today. Now we've shown that aggressive treatment of these men is ineffective. This information will help these men better maximize the quality of their remaining years."
The researchers hope the research will help doctors better-advise their patients when dealing with treatment options for prostate cancer.
"The guidelines suggest the men with life expectancies of less than 10 years shouldn't be treated aggressively, but life expectancy is difficult to measure accurately," Daskivich said.
The researchers noted that some limitations on the study could "affect generalizability of the results," Medical News Today reported.