When it comes to undergoing surgery in your later years, often your doctor will advise you against going through with it if you are over 80. However, with many new advancements being made in surgical care for the elderly, such as artificial heart implantation and heart transplants, you may be able to go through with it after all, depending on the procedure.
According to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, another surgery has been deemed okay for seniors who are over 80 — prostatectomy.
This surgery helps deal with prostate cancer in men. According to researchers, this type of surgery could be a viable treatment option for select patients who are 80 and over, even though doctors don’t usually recommend it for this age bracket. The findings of this study were recently published in the medical journal Urology.
According to Michael Lieber, MD, the study’s senior investigator, “Increased life expectancy and generally higher levels of wellness, as well as safer forms of anesthesia and less-invasive surgical techniques, have made it possible for older adults to safely and effectively have surgeries traditionally not offered over a certain age.”
“We didn’t think that using age as the deciding factor was a valid argument for not performing a radical prostatectomy, and we proved that it is a safe option for some men,” he added.
Prostate cancer is a killer in our society, where one in six men will lose the battle, according to the American Cancer Society. In fact, a staggering 27,000 men will succumb to this form of cancer in the U.S. — that’s this year alone.
While there are several forms of therapy available for this type of cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, cryotherapy (which involves killing a tumor by freezing it), conventional therapy, and even expectant management (monitoring the condition without applying any form of therapy), in some cases prostatectomy is the only route that is viable to take. This involves removing or reattaching the prostate gland in order to rid the area of cancer growth.
Normally, a specialist, such as a urologist, will only recommend a prostatectomy to patients who are facing a life expectancy of at least 10 years or more, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Also, patients who are past the age bracket of 70 to 75 are not treated as eligible candidates for this type of surgery. This is unfortunate, as a study that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that prostatectomy helped to significantly reduce mortality rates, distant metastases, and local disease progression.
In this new study from the Mayo Clinic, researchers looked at the records of 19 patients who were 80 and up, who underwent a prostatectomy between the years 1986 to 2003. The reasons for why patients underwent the surgery were numerous, but know that some individuals requested or demanded the surgery outright. The average age of the subjects sat at 81. They were all suffering from an aggressive form of prostate cancer at the time. According to the researchers, if these patients had not had the cancerous tissue removed, they would be facing death or palliative care such as radiation or hormone therapy.
Among the 19 patients who were involved in the study, 14 of them were stable, where none of them died within a year’s time of undergoing the surgery. Also, the 10-year survival rate was the same in the 80-year-old subjects as it was for those patients who were between 60 and 79 years old. Three of the participants died within 10 years of undergoing surgery due to various causes.
As the researchers concluded, aging is different for everyone and this form of surgery should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you are over 80 and otherwise healthy, it may be a viable option for you. Speak to your doctor about it.