(NaturalNews) New science continues to emerge showing "traditional" medical treatments, especially those for cancer, in particular, can actually do more harm than good.
The latest evidence comes in the form of a recent research study said to challenge how one of the most common forms of cancer - prostate - is treated. According to details of the study reported by Britain's Independent newspaper, "the world's biggest randomized trial of prostate cancer has found that the standard surgical treatment for the disease is ineffective."
Scientists conducting the study compared radical prostatectomy - or surgical removal of the prostate - with "watchful waiting," which is akin to doing nothing at all. The study found that surgery did not extend life.
"The only rational response to these results is," a leading British specialist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the paper, "when presented with a patient with prostate cancer, to do nothing."
Some still oppose a rational 'wait and see' approach
Prostate cancer is the most common in men, regardless of ethnicity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Cancer Society says 238,590 men will develop prostate cancer this year; of those, nearly 30,000 will die from the disease.
But the new study says in up to half of these cases, prostate cancer is slow-growing; even when left untreated, men can live for many more years and eventually die from something else. In fact, so slow is the growth that some specialists are beginning to question whether such cases should even be labeled "cancer."
These are some of the results of the Prostate Intervention Versus Observation Trial, or PIVOT. Led by Timothy Wilt, the study began in 1994 with 731 men. It showed that patients who underwent surgery had less than a three percent survival benefit when compared with those who had no treatment whatsoever, after being followed up for a dozen years. In fact, the difference was so slight as to be insignificant and could even have risen by chance.
Per the Independent:
When the findings were presented at a meeting of the European Association of Urology in Paris in February, attended by 11,000 specialists from around the world, they were greeted with a stunned silence.
One expert who attended the meeting said that while most research results are immediately transmitted by specialists in the audience using social media, "I did not see any urologists enthusiastically tweeting about [this one]."
Despite the results of this new comprehensive study, there are urologists who remain wedded to the failed techniques of the past. These doctors find the idea of doing nothing - just watching and waiting - unacceptable, the paper reported.
But surgery carries side effects and risks, too. In fact, surgery can have a serious quality of life impact, with half of men who have surgery suffering impotence and 10 percent suffering incontinence.
Options for treatment shrinking
One of those who disagreed with watching and waiting was Dr. Ben Challacombe, a consultant urologist at Guys and St. Thomas NHS (National Health System) Trust in Britain. He notes that many of the men in the trial were older - an average of 67 years old - were of low risk and would not have been offered surgery in the United Kingdom anyway.
"We would offer milder treatment such as radiotherapy or watchful waiting. We are better than the U.S. in putting men on surveillance," he said.
Needless to say, many urologists are content to continue current treatments - burning, cutting, and poisoning - men with prostate cancer. Many even say prostate treatment now is where breast cancer treatment was a generation ago, when the only treatment then was surgical mastectomy, or removal of the breast.
Removing only a portion of the prostate - as in "lumpectomies" with breast cancer - isn't a real option either, says Dr. Joel Nelson, of the Department of Urology at the University of Pittsburgh. He says prostate cancer can trigger molecular changes in the entire gland, which can then lead to "malignant transformation."
But the overarching point is this: More and more, science is uncovering the fact that current traditional treatment of cancer is becoming obsolete and ineffective. And we will cover every study detailing those chances in the months and years ahead.