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
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
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