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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995 Jul;80(7):2002-13.

Combination of screening and preoperative endocrine therapy: the potential for an important decrease in prostate cancer mortality.

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Prostate Cancer Research Unit, CHUL Research Center, Le Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.


Prostate cancer is the second cause of cancer death in men in the Western world; its medical and social impact is comparable to that of breast cancer in women. Although it is well recognized that early treatment is the only possibility for reducing the high rate of death from prostate cancer, screening and even early treatment are controversial issues due mainly to arguments based upon old literature and lack of awareness of the significant advances recently made in this field. As it is well known that surgical removal of organ-confined prostate cancer cures the disease, and it has been demonstrated that annual screening with prostate-specific antigen coupled with digital rectal examination followed, when indicated, by transrectal ultrasonography of the prostate more than doubles the proportion of organ-confined disease, screening alone offers the possibility of at least doubling the number of patients curable from prostate cancer or the potential for a cure to an estimated 45% of prostate cancer patients compared to a maximum of 20% in the absence of screening. It is important to mention that screening does not detect small and insignificant cancers, especially when random biopsies are not performed routinely. The critical volume of prostate cancer is estimated at 0.3 cm or a tumor 7.5 mm in diameter, if spherical. Such a tumor should increase serum prostate-specific antigen by 0.5 ng/mL. Contrary to the belief that screening detects cancers that are too small, the fact is that screening detects prostate cancer too late or nonorgan- or nonspecimen-confined cancer in 35-50% of cases. There is, thus, a narrow window when prostate cancer can be detected at a curable stage, and even the best available screening techniques cannot succeed in all cases. It should be mentioned that the recent improvements of the technique of radical prostatectomy have markedly improved the acceptability of surgery. Concerning the recent publicity related to watchful waiting, it is essential to indicate that all such reports support the notion that prostate cancer grows slowly, but steadily and irremediably, with increasing malignancy and risk of distant metastases and death if sufficient time is allowed. Another serious limitation of watchful waiting is that the available prognostic factors have a large margin of error and cannot predict with certainty the rate of progression of the tumor.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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