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  • Scientists Say Early Prostate Cancer Could Be Reclassified

Scientists Say Early Prostate Cancer Could Be Reclassified

Experts are calling to reclassify early-stage prostate cancer as ‘pre-cancer’, reassuring sufferers that treatment does not need to occur until the tumour begins to spread. The Mail on Sunday has reported that 90 per cent of those newly diagnosed with prostate cancer are simply monitored to ensure their condition does not worsen. Regular blood tests are taken instead, and treatment is only started when results appear worrying. The reason medical physicians often delay it for patients who have recently received their diagnosis is due to the adverse symptoms that can occur with either surgery or radiotherapy. Although recent research has shown survival rates for those who receive regular monitoring and delay treatment is the same as those who undergo more severe therapies, one-tenth of men say they would opt for the more invasive options. Therefore, by reclassifying early-stage prostate cancer to ‘pre-cancer’, this could reassure patients who would otherwise panic if they do not have treatment as soon as possible, despite evidence showing it can take many years before the cancer begins to spread. A prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test can be given to those who are over 50 or are exhibiting symptoms of prostate cancer. These signs include difficulty starting to urinate, trouble emptying the bladder, pain or burning when passing fluid, blood in the urine, pain in the back, hip or pelvis, painful ejaculation, or a weak flow of urine. If the PSA test detects symptoms of prostate cancer, the patient can then undergo scans and a biopsy, the results of which will be able to confirm a diagnosis. These can also inform medical experts on how large the tumour is, the rate at which it is growing, and how much it has already spread. Patients who are at high risk, depending on the results of these tests, undergo treatment as soon as possible, whereas those who are low risk are monitored. Prostate cancer is currently the most common cancer in men in the UK, with one in six males getting it in their lifetimes. Those who are at high risk include men aged between 75 and 79 years old, obese or Black men, and people who have had a close family member with it. Artificial intelligence (AI) could remove be used in the future to diagnose prostate cancer earlier, giving more men a better chance of survival. Digitising glass slides from biopsies could mean pathologists from all over the country are able to examine them, making diagnosis faster. Whether patients are then giving a cancer or ‘pre-cancer’ diagnosis after prostate cancer cells are detected will determine the follow-up care they receive.

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