Author Affiliations: Departments of Preventive
Medicine (Dr Gann) and Urology (Dr Han), and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive
Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago,
Light from the stars in Stephan’s Quintet in the Pegasus constellation
takes 270 million years to reach Earth. By the time this light arrives and
allows observers to see these galaxies, the stars are no longer there. Observing
the long-term outcomes for patients with minimally treated prostate cancer
evokes a similar although much less extreme dilemma. In this issue of JAMA, Albertsen and colleagues1 report
updated results from a cohort of Connecticut men who received neither surgical
nor radiation therapy for prostate cancer diagnosed between 1971 and 1984.
This cohort is noteworthy because it is the largest of its kind yet assembled.
In addition, it is population-based and has a mean follow-up time of more
than 20 years—which is virtually Hubble telescope range given the pace
of recent developments in prostate cancer detection.
Gann PH, Han M. The Natural History of Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer. JAMA. 2005;293(17):2149-2151. doi:10.1001/jama.293.17.2149