After Cancer Diagnosis, Is it Okay to Wait a Few Months Before Having Surgery?

Most men, when they find out that they have prostate cancer, and that it's clinically localized -confined to the prostate, and curable with surgery - want it out yesterday.Understandably,"they are anxious to get something done right away, and most men have surgery within just a few months of their initial diagnosis," notes Alan W. Partin, M.D., Ph.D.,David Hall McConnell Professor of Urology and director of the Brady Urological Institute. Although any hold-up can seem too long for a worried patient, the good news is that a modest delay of several months is okay. "There is little evidence to suggest that it affects the man's outcome, or our ability to control the cancer.

"Partin has long known this anecdotally, but recently studied this question of a few months' delay between diagnosis and surgery in response to a study in the Canadian Journal of Urology, which "cast unfounded doubt on the safety of such a delay with respect to cancer control," and needlessly worried patients, Partin says.

Partin and colleagues analyzed the medical records of 926 men who underwent surgery between January 1989 and December1994. All of them had the same surgeon -Patrick C. Walsh, M.D. Some of these men were treated early - within two months -and others had surgery at three, six, nine months or even more than a year after diagnosis. The investigators found no significant difference in the long-term cancer control rates of these men. These findings were published in the Journal of Urology.

"Patients can be reassured," says Partin, "that there is no immediate urgency to perform surgery after a prostate cancer diagnosis, especially in men with stage T1c disease and biopsy Gleason scores less than 7."


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