Although men on active monitoring – which involves regular tests to check on the cancer – were more likely to see it progress or spread than those receiving radiotherapy or surgery, this didn’t reduce their likelihood of survival.
The trial also found that the negative impacts of radiotherapy and surgery on urinary and sexual function persist much longer than previously thought – for up to 12 years.
The findings show that treatment decisions following diagnosis for low and intermediate risk localised prostate cancer do not need to be rushed, according to lead investigator, Professor Freddie Hamdy from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences at the University of Oxford.
'It’s clear that, unlike many other cancers, a diagnosis of prostate cancer should not be a cause for panic or rushed decision making,” he said. “Patients and clinicians can and should take their time to weigh up the benefits and possible harms of different treatments in the knowledge that this will not adversely affect their survival.'