LOS ANGELES

Study: Surgery not always best prostate cancer option

Most patients diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer will live just as long if they simply watch their cancers rather than have them surgically removed, according to the results of a landmark clinical trial that could upend the medical approach to a disease that affects 1 in 6 men.

The study, which focused on cancers confined to the prostate, should reassure patients who want to avoid distressing side effects of surgery — such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction — but still protect their lives, cancer experts said.

The much-anticipated results of the so-called PIVOT trial, reported in today’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, did find that surgery provided a slight benefit for patients with higher-risk early cancers. That group included men whose blood levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, were above 10 nanograms per milliliter or who had larger tumors with cells that were more abnormal in appearance.

And because the average age of the 731 men who participated in the trial was 67, with only 10 percent under age 60, the implications for younger men who have more potential years ahead of them are less certain, experts noted.

But overall, the clinical trial — the largest of its kind and the first in the era of widespread PSA screening — should be welcome news for men diagnosed with early prostate cancer, said Dr. Mark S. Litwin, chair of urology at the University of California, Los Angeles and a researcher at the university’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The trial gives us results that we have been waiting for in urology for quite some time,” said Litwin, who was not involved in the study.

“It confirms many of the recent reports that men with prostate cancer, by and large, can be safely managed with close monitoring.”

WASHINGTON

Nine military staff punished in Secret Service scandal

Seven Army soldiers and two Marines have received administrative punishments, but are not facing criminal charges, for their part in the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia this year.

U.S. officials said that one Air Force member has been reprimanded but cleared of any violations of the Military Code of Justice. And final decisions are pending on two Navy sailors, whose cases remain under legal review.

U.S. Southern Command conducted the investigation into the military members’ involvement in the April incident, which brought shame to the elite presidential protection force and unearthed revelations of other episodes of misconduct within the Secret Service.

WASHINGTON

Loophole allows ‘no-fly’ threats to learn how to fly

U.S. citizens who are on the government’s list of people banned from flying because they’re considered terror threats are not prevented from learning how to fly in schools around the country, according to government regulations.

The security loophole was raised during a hearing Wednesday to examine the Homeland Security Department’s programs to screen foreigners who want to attend flight schools in the U.S. Some of the 9/11 hijackers were able to learn to fly in the U.S. while living in the country illegally.

“I was stunned. That just caught me completely off guard, and I’m pretty angry about it,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said after the hearing. Rogers said that if the government doesn’t want someone on an airplane for being a terror threat, there’s no reason why they should be allowed to learn how to fly.

VIENNA

Find in castle is revealing: bra is not a modern creation

A revolutionary discovery is rewriting the history of underwear: Some 600 years ago, women wore bras.

The University of Innsbruck said Wednesday that archeologists found four linen bras dating from the Middle Ages in an Austrian castle. Fashion experts describe the find as surprising because the bra had commonly been thought to be only little more than 100 years old as women abandoned the tight corset.

Instead, it appears the bra came first, followed by the corset, followed by the reinvented bra.

— From news service reports