A lot of studies make me scratch my head, but every now and then a real gem comes along that makes me wonder just what in the heck they were thinking.
Like the recent study that found that older men with early stage low- or moderate–grade prostate cancer are more likely to die of something other than the prostate cancer.
Any doctor worth his salt knows that prostate cancer is a slow-developing disease. Combine that with the fact that older people tend to get it, and of course they're likely to die of something else first.
Unfortunately, the researchers made the wrong-headed conclusion that men diagnosed with prostate cancer were focusing only on their cancer, and neglecting other areas of their health.
They didn't just miss the boat. They missed the entire ocean. Here's the real question they should have been asking: Why do so many men rush out to get prostate cancer surgery?
In many cases, when you consider the age of the patient and how long it takes for the disease to develop, these surgeries make absolutely no sense at all. Remember, common side effects of prostate cancer surgery include incontinence and impotence.
One recent comprehensive study looked at hundreds of other studies to evaluate eight different forms of treatment – including surgery. You'll never guess what they found.
None of those treatments, not even the surgery, proved to be better than doing nothing at all.
There's no doubt that prostate cancer needs to be taken seriously. After all, it claimed nearly 30,000 lives last year. But at the same time, we also need to consider that nearly 2 million men alive today have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. And the 10-year survival rate of the disease is above 90 percent.
Prostate cancer requires a rational, measured approach – and that should have been the message of this study.
Looks like this study found a few needles – but missed the whole haystack.