A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan say the overall rate of men receiving treatment for prostate cancer declined 42 percent. This because national guidelines now recommend against routine prostate cancer screening.
- The decline reflects efforts to decrease overdiagnosis and overtreatment – preventing some unnecessary treatments that can cause long-term impact on quality of life, while still providing life-saving care to patients who need it.
- The Michigan researchers noted: “Some prostate cancers are so slow-growing that data suggests the risks of treatment may outweigh the benefits. Watchful waiting or active surveillance – which involve monitoring patients without delivering treatment – are options, especially for those patients with low-risk disease or limited life expectancy. By monitoring these patients, urologists can identify when treatment may become necessary.
- However, among those who are diagnosed, only 8 percent fewer are getting initial surgery or radiation treatments – even as data shows those with low-risk disease can substitute surveillance. (so aggressive treatment is still being recommended for some patients who may not need aggressive care).1,2
Research on less aggressive treatments: vitamin D
Recommendations for reducing screening for prostate cancers were based on studies that showed that the treatment was worse than the disease. Men could live a high quality of life existence simply managing prostate cancer as you would diabetes for instance.
Vitamin D has become a supplement of interest in helping men manage prostate cancer and maintain quality of life.
At the American Chemical Society’s May 2015 meeting, Bruce Hollis, Ph.D., from the Medical University of South Carolina released his research on vitamin D and prostate cancer. Here are the bullet points of his research:
- According to the University of South Carolina research, men knowing that they have even low-grade prostate cancer can cause them and their families excessive anxiety, which prompts some of the men to undergo an elective prostatectomy, despite the risk of complications such as infection, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
- In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, the University of South Carolina team assigned 37 men undergoing elective prostatectomies either to a group that received 4,000 U of vitamin D per day, or to a placebo group that didn’t receive vitamin D. The men’s prostate glands were removed and examined 60 days later.
- Preliminary results from this study indicate that many of the men who received vitamin D showed improvements in their prostate tumors, whereas the tumors in the placebo group either stayed the same or got worse.
- Also, vitamin D caused dramatic changes in the expression levels of many cell lipids and proteins, particularly those involved in inflammation. “Cancer is associated with inflammation, especially in the prostate gland,” says Hollis. “Vitamin D is really fighting this inflammation within the gland.” 3
This research agrees with another study which appeared in the Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research which suggested Vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer for those with elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level or abnormal digital rectal examination. Further, vitamin D deficiency is also associated with aggressive prostate cancer. 4
In October 2016 research lead by Northwestern University and Cleveland Clinic doctors suggested a strong reliance on vitamin D and prostate cancer:5
- “Given the largely non-toxic effect of vitamin D supplementation, consideration should be given to assessing vitamin D levels in men with benign prostatic disease.”
Vitamin D supplementation may be part of a management program for men with prostate cancer, but there are other lifestyle changes that may be beneficial. At the Magaziner Center for Wellness our treatments are focused on reducing inflammation, enhancing the cellular immune response, and inactivating cancer stem cells since these are the cells that cause cancer recurrences and are much more harmful than the actual tumor cells—all with the goal of improving quality of life, strength and vigor, and extending life span.
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1 Tudor Borza, Samuel R. Kaufman, Vahakn B. Shahinian, Phyllis Yan, David C. Miller, Ted A. Skolarus, Brent K. Hollenbeck. Sharp Decline In Prostate Cancer Treatment Among Men In The General Population, But Not Among Diagnosed Men. Health Affairs, 2017; 36 (1): 108 DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0739
2. Prostate cancer treatment rates drop, reflecting change in screening recommendations University of Michigan January 8, 2017
3. 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) 2015
4. Grant WB. Vitamin D status: ready for guiding prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment? Clin Cancer Res. 2014 May 1;20(9):2241-3. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-0369.
5. Murphy AB, Nyame YA, Batai K, et al. Does prostate volume correlate with vitamin D deficiency among men undergoing prostate biopsy? Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/pcan.2016.41