Radiation may not help some prostate cases
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 15, 2006
When prostate surgery fails to remove all traces of cancer, men face a decision about whether to have radiation therapy.
Radiation can lead to bowel and urinary problems, but patients might find that risk acceptable if there were evidence it guaranteed a longer, healthier life.
A new study finds no such guarantee. It suggests radiation following surgery that didn't catch all the cancer cells may not make a difference in how long a man lives, or in how long he lives without the cancer spreading.
However, radiation, which can cost up to $40,000, did lessen the chances a man would have an abnormal PSA test, an abnormal biopsy or other clinical finding showing prostate cancer's return during the next 10 years, the researchers found.
The study, appearing in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Cancer Institute of Canada. Researchers tracked 425 men, ages 43 to 79, for an average of 10 years following prostate removal. All the men had tests suggesting the surgery had failed to remove all the cancer cells, but only some of the men received radiation.
The study found there was no significant difference in survival or in how long the men lived without cancer spreading to other organs between the two groups. But the study may have been too small to find a difference in survival, said Dr. John Concato, a clinical epidemiologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System who was not involved in the study, or the men's cancers may not have had a large effect on their life expectancy.
The prostate is a gland the size of a walnut under the bladder that makes fluid for semen. Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer in its prevalence among American men. About 234,000 U.S. men are expected to be diagnosed with it this year and just over 27,000 will die of it. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk.
Study identifies nine factors of longevity
One of the largest, longest studies of aging found one more reason to stay trim and active: It could greatly raise your odds of living to at least age 85.
In fact, chances of being healthy in old age are better for people who at midlife have normal blood pressure, good grip strength and several other physical characteristics associated with being fit and active.
The study identified nine midlife risk factors: being overweight, meaning a body-mass index of 25 or more; having high blood glucose levels, which can lead to diabetes; having high triglyceride levels, which contribute to heart disease; having high blood pressure; having low grip strength - unable to squeeze at least 86 pounds of pressure with a handheld device; smoking; consuming three or more alcoholic drinks daily; not graduating from high school; and being unmarried.
The study involved 5,820 Japanese-American men in their fifties from the Hawaiian island of Oahu, who were followed for up to 40 years. The men who had none of the nine disease risk factors at midlife had a nearly 70 percent chance of living to age 85.
By contrast, those with six or more risk factors at midlife had a 22 percent chance of living to age 85.
The researchers said the results likely apply to women and men of other ethnic heritage, too. They appear in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Panel will reassess antibiotic for FDA
An antibiotic linked to rare reports of severe liver problems, including several deaths, will be subjected to new scrutiny by federal health advisers.
The Food and Drug Administration has asked a panel of outside experts to discuss the risks and benefits of Sanofi-Aventis SA's antibiotic Ketek in December, according to a federal notice released Tuesday.
Ketek, also called telithromycin, already carries a bold-type warning about the rare reports of liver failure and severe injury, some fatal, in patients treated with the drug. The panel could recommend further label warnings or other action.
The FDA approved Ketek in 2004. The drug is used to treat respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, sinusitis and community-acquired pneumonia.
[Last modified November 15, 2006, 02:15:53]
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