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New Tests Bring Clarity to Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a scary disease. While one-third to one-half of all prostate cancers are not life-threatening, many of the tumors are indeed aggressive, and can lead to death. That being said, the American Cancer Society reports that the relative five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is almost 100 percent, and the relative 15-year survival rate is around 94 percent. The biggest issue for many patients and their doctors is being able to make the distinction between which tumors of the prostate are cancerous and aggressive, and which ones are indolent. New tests may resolve this problem.

New Tests for Determining Risk of Cancer Spread

The biggest concern with prostate cancer is that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body, ultimately causing death without treatment. However, as mentioned above, up to one-half of all prostate cancers are not life-threatening. The question, then, is how does one determine between a cancer that will spread and a cancer that will not?

The answer may lie in a new test, called Oncotype DX. The test looks at the genes that are found within a tumor, and then makes a prediction regarding the risk of that tumor spreading to other parts of the body, according to an article in The New York Times. A scale from zero to 100 measures the risk, with 100 being the highest risk. A patient who receives a number of 15, for example, as did Dan Woska of Oklahoma City, may choose to forego surgery. Instead, Mr. Woska has chosen to watch his condition closely for cancer progression, but to not actively treat the cancer.

Are the Lab Tests Accurate?

One of the concerns with the tests, however, is that they may not be accurate. While there is not yet research to suggest otherwise, Dr. David F. Penson, the chairman of urological surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told reporters for The Times that “The new rules for lab tests aren’t as rigorous as the rules for new drugs.”

Does this mean a patient should choose to treat his prostate cancer? Not necessarily; prostate cancer treatments can have harsh side effects, including sexual dysfunction and incontinence. Before engaging in a treatment option – or opting out of treatment altogether – it is recommended that patients seek a second opinion from another medical professional.

When Prostate Cancer Is Misdiagnosed

Failure to catch and treat cancer of the prostate that is proliferating can be dangerous. And, diagnosing and treating a patient for prostate cancer when he does not have it can be equally as devastating for health. Accurate testing is key in the medical field; the failure to treat a patient because of inaccurate testing, or treating a patient unnecessarily because of medical testing, may both be acts of medical malpractice.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the experienced medical malpractice lawyers of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. can help you to understand the law surrounding malpractice and whether or not you have a claim. To learn more, contact us today by calling our offices directly or filling out our online form.


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