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Study finds surgery not always necessary for prostate cancer

Men in New Jersey and throughout the country who have surgery for early-stage prostate cancer may not benefit from it according to a study that was published in a peer-reviewed journal on July 13. The study took place over 20 years and dated from the early days of the routine prostate-specific antigen blood test. At the time, it was thought that early detection and surgery was the best approach to treating the disease.

However, the study found that complications including erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and infection could result from the surgery while overall, it did not tend to prolong life. Because prostate cancer grows slowly, observation and treatment only in the event that symptoms appear may be a better approach. The study did find better surgical outcomes for men who had longer life expectancies and whose prostate cancer was at an intermediate stage.

Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of fatal cancer in men. It is estimated that in 2017, more than 161,000 have or will be diagnosed with the disease and more than 26,000 men will die of it. However, researchers said they hoped the study would discourage doctors from using radiation or surgery to treat prostate cancer when it was not aggressive.

As this study demonstrates, approaches to treating conditions often evolve over time, and this means that medical professionals may sometimes make errors in diagnosis or treatment that do not constitute medical malpractice. However, an example of medical malpractice might be a doctor pursuing a course of treatment that is not the standard recommended approach. In determining whether medical malpractice has occurred, a court might consider if there has been negligence based on how other medical professionals would have handled the situation.

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