prostate cancer surgery

  1. How to survive prostate cancer

    The mainstream is engaged in one of the biggest turnarounds in medical history--and it's almost complete.

    Two new studies show yet again how prostate cancer is badly overtreated, exposing millions of men to expensive, life- ruining surgeries and deadly radiation for absolutely no reason.

    The first study finds that men who've survived one prostate treatment only to see the disease return are still far more likely to die of anything other than the cancer.

    Kind of makes you wonder if that first treatment was even necessary, doesn't it?

    More than 600 prostate cancer patients who had been treated with either surgery or radiation were tracked for up to 16 years. During that time, 62 percent died--but just 12 percent of those patients died of prostate cancer, according to the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    You might think that's a win for "life-saving" treatment... but don't celebrate it just yet--because it turns out even those who suffered cancer recurrences survived the disease long enough to die of something else.

    Roughly 37 percent of the surgery patients saw a return of their cancer--but since that's based on the same PSA levels that have led to the overtreatment of this cancer in the first place, it's hard to take that number too seriously.

    In any case, nearly 80 percent of the patients who suffered this "biochemical recurrence" were still alive 15 years later.

    Again, it begs the question: Was that first surgery really necessary?

    Nearly half of those treated with radiation--48 percent-- suffered a recurrence, and 80 percent of them were still alive 10 years later, while 58 percent managed to live through 15 more years.

    You have to wonder what role radiation played in the cancer's return... and the slightly higher death rate.

    Meanwhile, a new study in the Journal of Urology finds that most men who undergo prostate cancer surgery get too many PSA tests afterwards.

    Researchers examined data on 2,219 men who underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic, then were given PSA tests every three months for a year, every six months for the second year, and then annually after that.

    Just 6 percent of the patients experienced that so-called "biochemical recurrence."

    Researchers say that clearly, too many men are getting too many tests.

    I agree--because most of these men had one test too many to begin with: The one that led to their first cancer treatment. PSA tests are inaccurate, unreliable and the very embodiment of everything wrong with a system that profits off treating a disease that rarely kills anyone even when it's left alone.

    But while prostate cancer usually isn't worth worrying about, one rare and deadly form of cancer is. Keep reading to find out how you can lower your risk.

  2. The perils of prostate cancer screening

    The biggest problem with prostate cancer isn't the disease - it's the fear of the disease.

    And now, we finally have a real sense of the toll of that fear: 1 million men. That's how many have undergone prostate cancer surgery since 1986 - not because all of them needed it, but because they thought they needed it.

    I knew the problem was a big one. But even I was stunned when I read that figure in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

    The study found that since doctors began giving PSA tests to every male with a pulse, the numbers of early diagnoses and surgeries have risen dramatically. Yet the death rates have remained relatively steady, with some studies showing only the smallest of drops.

    In other words, PSA tests haven't led to more life-saving surgeries. They've simply led to more surgeries - surgeries based on fear. Men hear the cancer diagnosis and naturally, their first instinct is to get rid of the cancer.

    And surgeons - who only make a living when they have patients - aren't in any hurry to help correct that misperception.

    Remember, prostate cancer is often a slow-developing disease that reaches most men late in life. Later in life, prostate cancer grows so slowly that you're far more likely to die of something else long before the cancer has a chance to hurt you.

    Those surgeries, on the other hand, offer an express route to a major change in your quality of life. In addition to the stress of the diagnosis, the tests, and the costs, men who undergo surgery face potential incontinence and impotence and other powerful side effects.

    The new study estimates that for every life saved by early diagnosis and surgery, 20 men undergo the procedure needlessly.

    So don't panic if you hear that diagnosis. Make your decisions based on facts, not fear, and if you feel your doctor is rushing you to the operating room, don't fear getting a second opinion, either.

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