Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don’t know about us may surprise you. Discover all the ‘Real Possibilities’

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Games Tournament

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

A Measured Approach

Watchful Waiting for Older Men With Prostate Cancer

Aggressive treatment not always advised.

Men over age 65 who are diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer and choose “watchful waiting” rather than aggressive treatment will most likely not die of the cancer, according to a new study.

Sign up for AARP's Health Newsletter.

Older men diagnosed with prostate cancer who have small, low-risk tumors—defined by PSA level and Gleason score (See Tell Me More at left)—may want to choose a conservative approach known as “watchful waiting” instead of more aggressive treatments. A recent study, the largest of its kind, reports that survival rates have improved to 94 percent in such cases, even without surgery or radiation treatment.

This leaves little room for improving survival outcomes with treatment, says the study’s lead researcher, cancer epidemiologist Grace Lu-Yao. Yet only 10 percent of men age 60 or older choose watchful waiting.

Lu-Yao and her colleagues at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick studied data on more than 14,500 men 65 years old and older whose cancer had not spread beyond the prostate and who had opted for watchful waiting. For the majority of men, the risk of dying from prostate cancer was less than 10 percent over 10 years. Study subjects ages 66 to 74 who opted for watchful waiting had a 6 percent chance of dying from the cancer.

People usually think that all cancers are life-threatening, says Lu-Yao. “But prostate cancer is different,” she says. “About 20 percent of the men in the study have high-risk cancers and need treatment, but for the majority of men a low-risk cancer is more like a chronic disease than an acute one.” In her study, most men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer were either alive after 10 years or had died of other causes.

“Although we still call it watchful waiting, what we’re really talking about is active surveillance,” says Martin Sanda, M.D., director of the Prostate Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who was not involved in the research. He says that this approach involves regular tests, rectal exams and ultrasound imaging.

Lu-Yao stresses that research shows men who have elevated PSA levels and Gleason scores or whose cancer has spread benefit from treatment. And, she says, the results of this study do not apply to men younger than 65. “There’s a study now in progress for younger men but the results won’t be in for another 10 years.”

The study appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You may also like: Aspirin may reduce prostate cancer deaths. >>

Nissa Simon, a health writer, lives in New Haven, Conn.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Medical
Resources

Symptom Checker

Enter your medical symptoms to find out possible causes and treatments. Read

Health Encyclopedia

Find the information you need about health conditions, symptoms and medical procedures. Read

Health Screenings and Vaccines

What screenings and shots do you need? Read

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save up to 60% off eye exams and 30% off eyeglasses at Pearle Vision.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.