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Prostate Tests Underestimate the Severity of the Tumor

Update Date: Apr 12, 2014 09:45 AM EDT

A new study found that prostate tests underestimate the severity of the tumor causing doctors to give "false hope" to many of their patients. The researchers reported that roughly 50 percent of men were told that their cancers were slow progressing when they were actually more dangerous. This study raises questions about the effectiveness of the wait-and-watch treatment approach that if often recommended for patients with slow-growing prostate cancer.

For this study, the researchers from Cambridge University examined data from more than 800 patients with cancer. They analyzed the staging and grading of the tumors before and after the patients underwent surgery to remove the prostate. Out of this group, 415 patients were diagnosed with slow-growing tumors. During surgery, doctors found that 209 of these patients actually had a more aggressive tumor.

The researchers also found that in one-third of the cases, the tumors that were diagnosed as local to the organ had already spread out of the prostate gland. These findings suggest that prostate tests need to be modified and improved upon.

 "Our results show that the severity of up to half of men's prostate cancers may be underestimated when relying on tests before they have surgery," Urological surgeon Greg Shaw, from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said according to the Telegraph"This highlights the urgent need for better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is from the outset, building on diagnostic tests like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, and new biopsy techniques which help to more accurately define the extent of the prostate cancer."

The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.

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