New study questions need for surgery for prostate cancer

A new study out of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center has found that treating prostate cancer with surgery is not always in the best interest of the patient. The study was conducted over a period of twenty years. During this time, some participants underwent surgical treatment for their prostate cancer while others did not. Ultimately, researchers noted that the number of men who died due to their prostate cancer who received surgical treatment versus those who did not was "statistically negligible."

Researchers with the study clarify that this does not mean all patients diagnosed with prostate cancer should automatically forgo surgical treatment options. In some cases, particularly those involving fairly young men, surgery may still be a wise option. However, older men who are experiencing minimal symptoms of the disease may be wise to consider skipping surgery.

Why would a patient skip surgery? Surgery is often a serious medical event that comes with serious risks. The benefits and risks of any surgical procedure should be carefully considered before agreeing to this course of treatment.

Patients should ask questions about surgical recommendations. Not every surgical procedure that is recommended is necessary. This was brought to attention back in 2013 when USA Today conducted a study that found that unnecessary surgical procedures were completed "tens of thousands of times each year." Unneeded procedures discussed in the report included insertion of pacemakers, knee replacement surgeries and cesarean sections.

Researchers with the study note that determining if the procedure was unnecessary can be difficult. In many cases, the patient no longer experiences pain or discomfort after the procedure is complete. This can make it less likely the patient would second guess the procedure. However, in some of these cases the patient would have experienced the same results with physical therapy or other less invasive options.

How can patients avoid unnecessary surgeries? Patients can take proactive steps and can serve as their own best advocates. Ask questions about recommended procedures and get second opinions. These two steps can help reduce the risk of an unnecessary procedure.

Victims of unnecessary procedures also have options. These patients may be able to hold the physician responsible for unnecessarily encouraging the procedure through a medical malpractice suit. This generally requires the patient establish that the physician was negligent. In most situations like this, this would mean the patient must show that the physician acted in a manner that does not meet the accepted standard of care. This generally requires the use of expert testimony. As such, it is wise for a victim of this type of injury to seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney can build a case on your behalf, better ensuring you receive the legal remedies you are entitled to help you towards a speedy recovery.