By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is called intermittent therapy and the technique is very commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancer.

While essentially taking a break from hormone-blocking prostate cancer treatments – once the cancer has stabilized – appears to have short term benefits for erectile function and mental health, it could have a negative effect on survival.

Based on 10 years of follow-up of 1,525 patients, researchers found that patients on intermittent therapy had a 10-20% increase in the risk of death. This raises a crucial issue.

The break certainly is very important but with this knowledge there needs to be a careful look at risks versus benefit. It is an example of how complicated the long-term management of disease can be.