Active surveillance versus treatment for prostate cancer: Weighing your options

Prostate cancer treatment options can include surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. But some men are candidates for active surveillance – also known as “watchful waiting.” Prostate cancer patients on active surveillance have routine appointments with their care team to monitor the prostate cancer. By choosing active surveillance, many men are able to avoid some negative side effects of treatment, and to maintain their quality of life. To better understand active surveillance and which men should consider this option, we spoke with Justin Gregg, M.D. Here’s what he shared. Who should choose active surveillance instead of prostate cancer treatment? If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, the next step is to determine how likely it is to spread in the future. Using results from a digital rectal exam, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the Gleason Grading System, your doctor will determine if you have a low risk, intermediate risk or high risk of the cancer spreading. Low-risk prostate cancer patients are typically the best candidates for surveillance since the disease is very unlikely to spread in the future. But some patients may worry the cancer may spread without active treatment. Typically, the cancer is closely monitored, and delayed treatment can be offered (before the cancer has spread) if signs of progression are present. “Studies show that for men with low-risk prostate cancer, surveillance is very safe,” Gregg says. If you have intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer, surveillance may not be the best option, especially if you are healthy or have a higher risk tumor. In these cases, it may be better to seek treatment to slow disease progression, even if that...

Can mushrooms help during cancer treatment?

In some parts of the world, mushroom extracts are often used by patients for their medicinal benefits. They’re packed with vitamin D, which is essential for the immune system. And their benefits may not stop there. In Japan and China, certain mushrooms are routinely used to complement cancer treatments. “These mushrooms have been around for hundreds of years,” says Santhosshi Narayanan, M.D., a physician in MD Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Center. “They're often used in Asian countries, not only in cancer care, but also to treat infections and other diseases.” There have been more than 2,000 studies focused on mushrooms and cancer in the last 10 years, and Narayanan is conducting a review of the findings. Here’s what she wants cancer patients to know about medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms are not ordinary mushrooms. There are hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms. Those most frequently studied in cancer research are not usually sold in grocery stores. The most common medicinal mushrooms are: mitake reishi turkey tail shiitake Shiitake mushrooms are the only one of these that can easily be bought whole in grocery stores. The rest are often found in powdered forms in health food stores. Sometimes the active ingredient is removed and sold as a supplement. Mushrooms can strengthen the immune system Some studies show mushrooms boost parts of the immune system that are linked to cancer. “Certain mushrooms stimulate the compounds that are responsible for tumors suppression,” says Narayanan. “And there are also mushrooms that decrease inflammatory compounds, which is helpful for cancer patients.” Most studies show a positive effect on the immune system, but more research is needed....