Active surveillance of slow-growing prostate cancer may not be the safest treatment option due to patients discontinuing the program, according to a study presented at the European Association of Urology (EAU) Congress on April 12, 2014.
The study, conducted by researchers in Switzerland, followed 157 patients at a nonacademic urologic institution over a 13-year span.
The researchers found that 28% of the patients needed definitive treatment, but almost all of those men were cured of the disease. Another 27% of patients in the study did not show up to the recommended follow-up appointments. Those patients also did not reply to follow-up letters requesting an ongoing check-up.
Prostate cancer treatment typically involves radiotherapy or major surgery, which can have side-effects such as incontinence and impotence. As a result, low-risk patients are increasingly kept under an active surveillance program to monitor disease severity.
“This is very interesting and potentially controversial work, which is based on clinical practice in the real world,” said Professor Manfred Wirth, executive member of the EAU. “It shows that we may need a clearer understanding of the psychological factors which might get in the way of effective follow-up in these points.“