Prostate Cancer Patients Who Undergo Surgery Have High Survival Rates

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Men with prostate cancer who undergo surgery to remove their prostate glands have a high survival rate and low rates of cancer recurrence, cancer spread and death, according to new research.

The study included 10,332 men who had the surgery — called a radical prostatectomy — between 1987 and 2004. Between five and 20 years after having the surgery, 3 percent of those patients died of the cancer, 5 percent saw their cancer spread to other organs and 6 percent had a recurrence of cancer in their prostates, according to researchers from the Mayo Clinic.

“These are excellent survival rates,” said Dr. R. Jeffrey Karnes, a Mayo Clinic urologist, in a statement. “They show that radical prostatectomy is a benchmark for treatment of men with prostate cancer that has not spread.”

Among cancers, prostate cancer has a relatively high survival rate in general. Five years after diagnosis, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent, and 10 years after diagnosis, the survival rate is 90 percent, according to 2010 data from the American Cancer Society.

In the study, the researchers looked at data from 1987 to 2004. During that time, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testwas introduced as a method of early detection — it was approved by the FDA in 1994.

Before the PSA test existed, prostate cancer was detected by symptoms or by a digital rectal exam, both of which were less likely to detect cancer before it had spread beyond the prostate.

The findings were presented yesterday (Sept. 29) at a meeting of the North Central Section of the American Urological Association in Chicago.

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