only hormone-blocking drugs to treat prostate cancer does not improve patients’ survival rates. More from Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press:
The study involved nearly 20,000 Medicare patients with prostate cancer that hadn't spread. A surprising 41 percent got only drug treatment, in shots or implants, showing that the therapy has become a popular alternative to surgery and radiation, the study authors said.And according to the report, the men given drugs alone actually had a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer—scary stuff!
Other experts said the study gives doctors important information about how to treat older men with slow-growing disease that hasn't spread beyond the prostate. However, the study didn't look at whether hormone-blocking drugs alone benefit younger men or compare that treatment with radiation or surgery.
Randomized studies have shown that the drugs can benefit men with more aggressive disease when used along with surgery or radiation. The drugs block production of testosterone, which feeds cancer cells. They are sometimes given in addition to surgery or radiation; using them alone is a less traditional but increasingly used approach, particularly among older men whose prostate cancer hasn't spread, the study authors said.
Patients often believe that any treatment is better than nothing, said lead author Dr. Grace Lu-Yao of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.
"What we are saying is doing something may not always be the best choice, because given the overall picture, this doesn't really give you any proven benefit," she said.