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Study explores treatment options for prostate cancer

For many readers, the mention of cancer might raise all sorts of fears. Cancer cells display uncontrolled growth, ultimately invading and harming bodily tissues. Perhaps the scariest thing about this class of diseases is that so much is not understood about its causes or effective treatments.

If confined to one area, the cancer might be removable through surgery, but even then, the risk of relapse might be high. Although some might expect that surgical removal of the prostate would improve survival chances for prostate cancer patients, a government advisory committee has actually recommended against the practice. According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, unnecessary prostate cancer treatments may harm more men than they save.

If cancer does reappear, a patient’s chances may be even lower than before. Certain drugs, or chemotherapy, may be used to treat cancer, but the side effects experienced by many patients are so severe that the harm may seem to outweigh the potential benefits. In layman’s terms, killing cancer cells may be counterproductive when too many of the body’s healthy cells are also eradicated in the process.

According to a new study, however, chemotherapy may be of particular benefit to prostate patients whose cancer has relapsed or spread outside of the prostate. Both of those situations often involve a very serious diagnosis, but chemotherapy started early in the treatment cycle was found to prolong survival by a median of almost 14 months.

As that data suggests, prostate cancer can be a deadly disease, and not even the most skilled doctor may be able to predict a treatment outcome. For that reason, patients should consult with an attorney about Social Security disability insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration acknowledges the life-threatening nature of this condition by including prostate cancer in its listing of Compassionate Allowances, or conditions that qualify for expedited application processing.

Source: The New York Times, “Early Chemotherapy Extends Lives of Men With Prostate Cancer, Study Finds,” Andrew Pollack, June 1, 2014

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