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The Prostate Cancer InfoLink

About the Author

Last Revised May 15, 1997.

Some people will consider it important to know something about the personal experience of the main author of the information on The Prostate Cancer InfoLink, so here it is for what it is worth.

As of the above date I am a 49-year-old male. I was born in England and trained as a biochemist. I have spent the past 28 years in the fields of scientific and medical communication. Since late 1989, I have had considerable contact with many of the leading American and international authorities on the management of prostate cancer and other cancers, and involvement in multiple communication programs related to their work.

I do not have prostate cancer or any other form of cancer, nor do I knowingly have any other prostate disorder. I have had regular DREs as part of my annual physical examinations for the past 9 years. However, I have never been offered nor have I requested a PSA test, although I have discussed with my primary care physician the possibility of such a test and the ramifications of the possible results of such a test. It is relevant that my family history is one of considerable longevity with no known history of prostate cancer in any family member for at least three generations. My mother was diagnosed in 1997 with breast cancer at the age of 79 and is still alive. One of her sisters was diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and is still alive. May father's mother had stomach cancer when she died at the age of 92, but whether this was the cause of death at that age is doubtful.

I accept and understand that, for some patients with prostate cancer, this lack of personal experience of the disease may render my views at best irrelevant and at worst presumptuous.

I have concerns about the ways in which physicians and patients communicate with and relate to each other in an increasingly complex society. It is my personal opinion that, just as there is a moral and ethical obligation upon a physician to offer care to patients based on his or her experience and best interpretation of all available information about that patient and that patient's history and condition at a particular point in time, there are also obligations upon patients. Patients cannot and should not expect their physicians to know everything. It is not possible and it never was. Equally, patients need to recognize that physicians are human beings. They are subject to the same frailties as other human beings. They too are capable of error.

It should be said that I believe there are physicians who will move heaven and earth for their patients and there are physicians for whom medicine is a means to financial security and sometimes prosperity. Not uncommonly the two situations can coexist in one individual physician. I see nothing wrong in this situation but admit to a bias that I would prefer to be cared for by a physician who would move heaven and earth for his or her patients! Conversely, I believe that there are patients who willingly work cooperatively with their physicians to attempt to seek the best possible outcome for the clinical situation in which they find themselves. And I also believe that there are patients from whom physicians would rather hide because of the behaviors and attitudes of those patients.

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The content in this section of the Phoenix 5 site was originally developed by CoMed Communications (a Vox Medica company) as part of The Prostate Cancer InfoLink. It is reproduced here with the permission of Vox Medica.

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