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New Study on Prostate Cancer Surgery reinforces need for SDM

The front page article on today’s Boston Globe, “Limited Prostate Treatment Backed”details a clinical trial conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital and elsewhere that has shown that men in their 60s who had prostate cancer surgery did not live significantly longer than men whose cancers were merely monitored. What’s more, the men who did have surgery had significantly more side effects.

Dr. Michael Barry, study co-author and our colleague at the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation states, “What we found really suggests that treatment has a limited effect for most tumors.” He continues that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test “is finding many cancers that wouldn’t have otherwise caused problems.”

Whether or not a man decides to get screened and subsequently whether or not he decides to have surgery if a cancer is found are deeply personal decisions. What’s critically important in making these decisions is that every patient understands the risks, tradeoffs, and potential outcomes of different screening and treatment options. Health Dialog’s patient decision aid, “Is a PSA Test Right for You?” presents individuals with all of the information they need to make the choice that is right for them, in the context of their own values and preferences.

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