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Prostate Cancer Archive

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Shortened radiation therapy may help with low-risk prostate cancer

Updated January 1, 2017

A new study found that men with low-risk prostate cancer may be able to undergo a shortened course of radiation therapy that cuts treatment by weeks and offers similar outcomes and quality-of-life results as longer treatment courses.

Meditation may ease anxiety from active surveillance

Updated September 14, 2016

A mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) can help control anxiety among men who follow active surveillance for prostate cancer. The wait-and-see approach can make men feel so uneasy about their condition that they opt for treatment with radiation therapy or surgery when it is unnecessary. MBSR not only eases anxiety levels, but also inspires men to be more proactive about their health and adopt lifestyle changes like a proper diet and exercise.

Adapting to life after cancer

Updated September 14, 2016

Once you've completed treatment, adjusting to a "new normal" can be challenging.


Image: RuslaGuzov/ Thinkstock

Completing cancer therapy can feel like a graduation. You've done some hard work, it's paid off, and you may be ready to celebrate. But saying goodbye to treatment can arouse many of the emotions and uncertainties associated with beginning a new chapter in life.

Dr. Larissa Nekhlyudov is a general internist who works with cancer survivors at two Harvard affiliates, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She acknowledges that cancer survivors have a lot to deal with. "Once you've had your final chemotherapy infusion or swallowed the last pill, you may find yourself facing a new set of challenges—monitoring yourself for signs of recurrence, getting recommended follow-up care, adjusting to the long-term effects of treatment, psychologically adapting to normal life, and working to stay in good health," Dr. Nekhlyudov says.

New urine test predicts high-grade prostate cancer

Published August 11, 2016

Researchers believe that a non-invasive screening test that can identify genetic markers for high-grade prostate cancer in urine may eventually reduce the number of prostate biopsies needed. However, experts also caution that while the number of non-invasive tests for prostate cancer diagnosis is growing, these are still early days in their development.

Radiation: Another treatment choice for prostate cancer

Updated July 14, 2016

Used alone or with hormone therapy, radiation can be a viable option for men at any stage of prostate cancer.


 Image: BigStock

 

Nowadays, men diagnosed with prostate cancer are often given two treatment choices, on opposite ends of the spectrum. First is active surveillance, where you forgo immediate treatment and monitor the cancer's growth. The other is surgery to remove the cancerous prostate.

But an in-between option might be a better choice for men who do not want the anxiety of wait-and-see or the physical hardship of surgery: radiation therapy.

Can vitamin D levels signal aggressive prostate cancer?

Updated June 16, 2016

Low levels of vitamin D may help predict aggressive prostate cancer, according to new research. While it only showed an association, the researchers believe low D levels could be used as a valuable biomarker, and help men and their doctors decide whether to consider active surveillance, in which the cancer is monitored for changes.  

Do you really need that cancer screening?

Updated March 8, 2016


Image: Thinkstock

A research letter published online Jan. 21, 2016, in JAMA Oncology suggests that many older adults are getting unnecessary cancer screenings. Researchers looked at questionnaire answers from about 150,000 seniors (ages 65 or older) across the country, and found that about half had received prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing or mammography in the past year. But a third of those screened did not have a 10-year life expectancy, a major guideline for screening. Unnecessary screening rates varied by state—for example, 11% in Colorado and about 20% in Georgia. "Undergoing a screening test may actually cause more harm than good, especially with older patients or those with significant medical conditions," says Dr. Marc Garnick, an oncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and editor in chief of Harvard's Annual Report on Prostate Diseases. So talk to your doctor about the guidelines. Both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend routine mammograms every two years for women ages 55 to 74. The ACS does not recommend mammograms in this age group if a woman has a life expectancy of less than 10 years.

For all men, the USPSTF recommends against routine PSA testing. The ACS suggests that men 50 or older (at average risk for prostate cancer) make the decision about screening with their doctor, but only if they have a life expectancy of at least 10 years, and only if they have been advised about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening.

Test may diagnose prostate cancer more accurately

Updated March 8, 2016

A study in the December 2015 issue of The Lancet Oncology found that a new test, called STHLM3, is more helpful at detecting aggressive cancer than traditional tests for prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

The STHLM3 test is a blood test that analyzes a combination of six protein markers, more than 200 genetic markers, and various clinical data, such as age, family history, and previous prostate biopsies.

Ask the doctor: Concern about a now "normal" PSA

Updated February 19, 2016

Ask the doctor

Q: I am 68 years old, and recently my PSA level (which was normal before) increased to 5.2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). My doctor repeated the test one month later, and it was normal again at 3.3 ng/ml. Should I still be concerned?

A: One of the reasons that routine PSA testing is so controversial is the inability of the test to distinguish men with prostate cancer from those without it. A common cutoff is 4 ng/ml, but this is hardly a black-and-white answer. In fact, 30% of men with a PSA result between 4 and 10 have cancer. (The remaining 70% have benign causes, like an enlarged prostate.) In men with a "normal" PSA in the 2-to-4 range, 20% have cancer. So the risk is still present.

Some prostate cancer treatments increase heart attack risk

Updated January 15, 2016

In the journals

If you have suffered a heart attack and plan to undergo prostate cancer treatment, you may want to weigh the risks and benefits of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). ADT decreases the amount of androgens in the body, which prostate cancer needs to grow and survive. It is also often used along with radiation therapy, and the combination has been shown to prolong survival in men with unfavorable-risk prostate cancer—defined as cancer with two or more high-risk factors, like a PSA level between 10 and 40 ng/mL, a Gleason score of 7 or higher, or biopsies with 50% or higher cancerous cells.

But a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that men who had a prior heart attack can increase their risk of a fatal one if they undergo both radiation therapy and ADT. Researchers compared overall survival and death from prostate cancer, fatal heart attack, and other causes in a group of 206 men with unfavorable-risk prostate cancer. The men received either radiation alone, or radiation and six months of ADT. The researchers also categorized the men into subgroups based on other health conditions, including heart disease.

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