These researchers dedicate their careers to finding new treatments and cures for people with cancer.
Active Surveillance for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer
There are many different ways to treat cancer: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and more. Sometimes therapies are used alone and sometimes in combination. But, in certain circumstances, the best treatment option for a patient may not look much like treatment at all. Instead of attempting to eliminate the cancer, doctors simply monitor it carefully for signs of progression. This is called active surveillance (AS).
For patients with low-risk prostate cancer, which is slow-growing and often nonthreatening, active surveillance is a good option. It comes without the unpleasant side effects of more aggressive treatment and still helps ensure the cancer does not become harmful. Yet active surveillance is not administered as often as it could be – likely because little is known about its current use.
Why isn’t active surveillance recommended more?
“We recognize that there is overtreatment in the United States for prostate cancer,” says Dr. Kim, a urologist at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“We’re trying to identify ways to improve active surveillance for patients who may not need curative treatment.” Dr. Kim and his team are analyzing privately-insured claims data to identify national trends of active surveillance – when and why physicians have or have not recommended it in the past.
They are also conducting a survey to determine physician attitudes and perceptions about AS. The survey will include responses from nearly 3,000 physicians and closes in three months’ time. Results are forthcoming.
“We want to improve awareness for providers about the benefits of active surveillance and, ultimately, increase the number of patients who receive it,” says Dr. Kim. “In some cases, it can be preferable to aggressive treatments that are associated with poor quality of life outcomes.”
“My Conquer Cancer Foundation grant was absolutely critical in helping me conduct this research,” notes Dr. Kim. “Supporting Conquer Cancer is so important, not just for helping young clinicians become future leaders in the field, but also to improve patient care.”