A selection from:
Men,Women, and Prostate Cancer
Over the past few years, these prominent spokespeople have
contributed to a groundswell of interest in prostate cancer, while
at the same time revolutionary breakthroughs in detection and
treatment have occurred. Successive-refinements in measuring the
level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in a man's bloodstream
have led to a relatively simple, inexpensive, and comfortable
means of testing for the possible presence of prostate cancer (as
discussed in chapter 3 of this book). And a sophisticated ''nerve-sparing'' surgical technique can now sharply reduce the risk of
impotence associated with cancerous prostate gland removal (as
discussed in chapters 4, 6, and 8).
Unfortunately, each of these highly significant medical
advances has generated its own maelstrom of controversy, which
only further perplexes today's patients and their caregivers.
Because prostate cancer is typically very slow to grow, a man who
has a small tumor may live a long, healthy life and die of some
other natural cause (including advanced age) long before the cancer can become a problem. Thus, early detection — now made
more possible by PSA testing — often raises agonizing questions:
Should an early-Stage C/T3 or T4 cancer be treated aggressively,
in which case the patient may run an unnecessary risk of impotence and incontinence, or should the patient simply put off treatment, waiting to see what develops over time, in which case he
may wind up risking his life?
As for the nerve-sparing surgical technique, many conservative medical experts warn that its actual success rate has not been
accurately determined. In the meantime, they say, exaggerated
claims about its effectiveness are influencing many patients and
their caregivers to look, more favorably than they should, upon
surgery as a treatment option.