Prostate cancer surgery was thrown into question by a new study that claims it is often unnecessary.
Researchers, in what is named the PIVOT trial, found that simply watching the cancer instead of aggressively treating it with surgery, did not increase the risk of an early death.
In other words, surgery, for the most part, was not needed for prostate cancer.
The news of the massive study of over 700 men may radically change the way prostate cancer is treated in younger men and in early stages when doctors have advised aggressive measures against the illness.
"The trial gives us results that we have been waiting for in urology for quite some time," said Dr. Mark S. Litwin, chair of urology at UCLA, who was not involved in the study, said the Los Angeles Times.
"It confirms many of the recent reports that men with prostate cancer, by and large, can be safely managed with close monitoring."
Not only does surgery not seem to be effective in prolonging life, it could also cause nasty side-effects.
According to Reuters, many men who had the surgery to remove their prostate reported incontinence and impotence after two years, said the study authors.
The news is an important wake-up call for doctors treating the illness.
The New York Times reported that prostate treatment has come under fire lately for having been too aggressive with a disease that will likely not be fatal.
It is estimated that over 100,000 radical prostatectomy surgeries are performed in the US each year.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.