Leave your prostate alone
July 22, 2012 Leave a comment
Yet more evidence that way to many men are getting unneeded (and often quite harmful!) surgery for prostate cancer:
A new study shows that prostate cancer surgery, which often leaves men impotent or incontinent, does not appear to save the lives of men with early-stage disease, who account for most cases, and many of these men would do just as well to choose no treatment at all.
The findings were based on the largest-ever clinical trial comparing surgical removal of the prostate with a strategy known as “watchful waiting.” They add to growing concerns that prostate cancer detection and treatment efforts over the past 25 years, particularly in the United States, have been woefully misguided, rendering millions of men impotent, incontinent and saddled with fear about a disease that was unlikely ever to kill them in the first place. About 100,000 to 120,000 radical prostatectomy surgeries are performed in the United States each year.
“I think this is game-changing,” said Dr. Leonard Marks, a professor of urology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. “What this study does is call attention to the fact that there are a lot of prostate cancers that are diagnosed today that are not dangerous.”
Obviously, in some cases you are saving lives, but more often than not, you are just leaving men saddled with really unpleasant conditions for no gain. Surgeons want to cut (yes, I realize this is a simplification, but it does speak to a broader truth) and many, many people are not comfortable with the idea of not treating their cancer. It’s a bad combination.