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a selection from:

Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer by Michael Korda
continuing Part II - Surgery

Page 118 - (go to page 117)

You can get all the information you need — though it takes some doing — about Gleason scores, the different ways of attacking the disease, and so forth, but when it comes to what it's going to do to your marriage, you're on your own, and I don't have any doubt that this adds considerably to the level of anxiety on both sides.

An example: about fifteen years ago, I underwent a vasectomy. Margaret and I didn't want children (I have a son by a former marriage), and both of us were concerned about the risks for her of staying on the Pill. The operation, billed as a simple, painless, in-office procedure, turned out to be long, bloody, and very painful — an exception, I have no doubt, to the rule, but still a memorably unpleasant experience.

Lo and behold, no sooner did I start reading up on prostate cancer than I discovered that men who have had a vasectomy may have a higher incidence of prostate cancer than those who have not. To be exact, a 1990 report on three thousand patients with prostate cancer found that ''the rate of prostate cancer, present in 610 men, was twice as high for men who had undergone vasectomies.''1 This is about the same percentage as was found in a Johns Hopkins study of men whose fathers or brothers had prostate cancer.2

Researchers established ''an association,'' not a ''risk factor,'' which, in layman's terms, merely means that the case, while compelling and worthy of further research, remains unproven.3 Still, I couldn't help wondering, given the numbers in the 1990 study, whether my vasectomy might not have been the cause of my cancer, though the answer appears to be almost certainly not.

1  Study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology by Dr. Curris Mettlin, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, as quoted in The Well-informed Patient's Guide to Prostate Problems, by Charles E. Shapiro, M.D., and Kathleen Doheny, Dell, 1993.
2   Gary D, Steinberg, M.D., James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins, as published in The Prostate.
3  While the vasectomy thesis remains conjectural, proof is rapidly accumulating that genetics plays a significant role in prostate cancer. Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Department of Human Genetics already lists prostate cancer high among those that are genetically driven, and the department's Clinical Genetics Service, under the guidance of Service Chief Kenneth Offit, M.D., P.M.H., is in the forefront of tracing a medical ''family tree,'' which can be used to determine whether family members are truly at risk of getting cancer (including prostate cancer), thus opening up the possibility of cancer prevention for those determined to be at risk.

Selections reproduced at with the kind permission of the author. Copyright © 1996, 1997 by Success Research Corporation

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