prostate tumor

  1. Prostate treatment can cause sex problems

    Erectile dysfunction can last 15 years or more

    When men hear the words "prostate cancer" they often rush into treatment so fast they never even consider the side effects.

    But there are side effects -- life-altering and even life-ruining side effects, including sex problems that can last for years or even for the rest of your life.

    In one new study, men who were treated for early stage prostate tumors suffered from lingering sex problems for years afterwards. Not just some of them, but nearly all of them.

    And not just for a few years.

    The study tracked 1,655 men between the ages of 55 and 74 at the start of the study, and 87 percent of the ones who had prostate surgery were suffering from sex problems a full 15 years later.

    The numbers for men treated with radiation were even worse: 94 percent of them were battling sexual dysfunction 15 years later.

    Now, it goes without saying that any large group of men in their 70s and 80s will include some guys with sex problems-- but we know from other studies that it should be roughly half of them... not practically everyone.

    And that wasn't the only problem that lingered through the years.

    Eighteen percent of the men who had surgery and 9 percent of the ones who had radiation were battling urinary incontinence 15 years later, while 5 percent of the men who had surgery and 16 percent of those who underwent radiation were experiencing bowel issues.

    Of course, if prostate surgery and radiation saved lives, you can argue that maybe it's worth all those risks and more.

    But we know from other studies that many -- maybe all -- of these men would have survived even without radical treatment options such as surgery and radiation.

    In one study I told you about last summer, men with prostate cancer were assigned to either surgery or no treatment at all. A decade later, there were no significant differences in the death rates.

    That's because in many cases, prostate tumors grow so slowly that they simply do not pose a threat during a normal human lifespan -- especially the early-stage tumors like the ones treated in the new study.

    Instead of rushing into surgery, many senior men with prostate cancer would do well with an approach called watchful waiting. It's exactly what it sounds like: Keep an eye on the tumor, but don't treat it unless it starts to grow.

    One way to help make sure that tumor stays small and worry-free is to not worry about it yourself -- because stress alone can actually help feed many tumors, especially prostate tumors.

    In experiments on mice that had human prostate cancer cells implanted in them, researchers found they were able to wipe out the cancer cells with medication when the mice were left unstressed.

    But when the mice were stressed, the drug didn't work at all -- and the cells kept growing.

    So watch the tumor and watch your stress -- and don't forget to include some prostate-friendly nutrients in your regimen, including vitamin D, turmeric, and selenium.

    If surgery is indicated consult with a surgeon who has a lot of experience using robotic prostate surgery to reduce your risk of complications.

    Work closely with a holistic physician on a nutritional approach that's right for you. And for natural cancer care in the southern California area -- including treatment that can help minimize the sex problems and other side effects of surgery and radiation when you do need it -- make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

  2. The risk of a PSA test outweighs the benefits

    The end of the PSA test?

    It's been a long time coming, but the PSA test used to screen men for prostate cancer is finally on the outs.

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has formally given a "D" to the PSA test. It's the lowest possible grade the guideline-writing agency issues, and it means the risks of the test outweigh the benefits.

    Naturally, there's been a lot of screaming from some doctors who want to keep using it, along with the men who believe the test led to a prostate surgery that saved their lives.

    In reality, the studies are remarkably consistent -- so consistent that I don't get why this new recommendation is controversial.

    Fact of the matter is that the PSA test has an incredibly high rate of false positives -- as high as 80 percent. That might be tolerable if it saved lives the other 20 percent of the time, but it doesn't.

    Instead, it often leads to treatments such as surgery that can come with serious long-term risks like incontinence and impotence -- and studies have shown that most of these men would have survived even without those life-ruining treatments.

    That's because prostate tumors grow so slowly you'll almost certainly live with them -- not die because of them.

    This isn't just a maverick opinion from the land of alternative health. It's the reason the very mainstream USPSTF is abandoning the test, the reason many mainstream doctors stopped using it long ago, and the reason even the man whose discovery led to the test -- Dr. Richard Ablin -- now regrets it.

    I don't think the PSA needs to be abandoned completely, as it may be of some use in men with a high risk of the disease -- such as men with a strong family history of prostate cancer. It can also be used to monitor men on testosterone therapy.

    But even then, it's just one tool in the toolbox and needs to be used alongside other better tools, such as the digital rectal exam and prostate ultrasound.

    If prostate cancer is diagnosed, many older men can safely take what's called the "watch and wait" approach, although I've never cared for the phrase. It sounds a little like "watch and do nothing," and that's exactly what you shouldn't do.

    Instead, work with a holistic doctor on getting the nutrition your body needs to slow, stop, and even reverse the growth of your prostate tumor. This used to be considered an "alternative" approach -- but thanks to the Task Force's decision, it's quickly moving into the mainstream.

    If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate problems, consider getting help at my clinic.

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