Friday, August 8, 2014

Keeping Men In Dark About Their Prostate Cancer

According to the American Cancer:

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
  • About 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed
  • About 29,480 men will die of prostate cancer
About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.
The number of younger men diagnosed with aggressive cancer is increasing. Unfortunately  there is a new threat that's emerging for men with prostate cancer. This threat comes from an unexpected source.....the medical community. 
A recent study concludes that prostate cancer screening saves lives, but casts doubt on the benefits of early screening. The U.S  Preventative Task Force came out against prostate cancer screening.
Here's the problem: Too many men are choosing to threat their cancer aggressively and suffering from unnecessary and very unpleasant life long consequences as a result of their treatment choice. In order to protect men from making bad decisions, there is a growing number of medical professionals who believe keeping men in the dark and allowing men to die unnecessarily  from prostate cancer is the solution to the problem of over treatment. From my perspective this is insanity. 
Why are too many men choosing to over treat their cancer? There is a one word answer: FEAR. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer powerful images of pain, suffering and death came to my mind. If that's how and when men are asked to make a treatment decision they will go for the most aggressive treatment available. That's no reason keep men in the dark and permit other men to die unnecessarily of a disease that could be treated. Yet that's exactly what many in the medical community are proposing.  

As a prostate cancer survivor, I believe the right thing to do is to help men manage their fears and misconceptions about cancer,]. This will empower men  to make best treatment decision based on facts and their diagnosis rather than their fears.  Why is this so difficult for the medical community to understand? Could it be there is widespread ignorance about the emotional aspects of receiving the diagnosis of cancer? 

 In an article I wrote for Alternative Medicine Magazine I propose a way to help men get past their fears in order to make the best treatment decision. This makes infinitely  more sense than keeping men in the dark and allowing others to die. If you are considering surgery as a treatment choice or experiencing difficulty adjusting to life without a prostate check out my book I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?