September 17, 2001
What You Don't Know Can Kill You
In any given year, 185,000 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. About 35,000 will succumb to this disease yearly. You must be involved in the diagnosis and the treatment. You must not be scared to ask questions and even show a certain amount of aggressiveness - question every thing! By all means, ask for a second opinion, and a third, or more.
Unfortunately, on the West Coast we do not have tumor boards. Tumor boards are comprised of urologists, oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists. These boards determine the best treatment for you as a rule. On the West Coast, we go to a urologist and accept that as law.
According to the National Cancer Institute, if you decide on surgery, be sure that your urologist performs at least two or three surgeries per week. If you decide on radiation, check out the establishment, and demand to know the qualifications of the radiologist and the equipment used in the procedure.
Much success has resulted in the last ten years from a diagnostic tool called the PSA test, or the blood test, if you prefer. You must be an active part of the treatment process. Ask questions!
During my own personal experience, as I entered the room, within thirty seconds, my doctor suggested surgery. He stated, "We will cut it out then throw it into the bucket". Do not tolerate such brusque attitudes.
If you need answers, utilize the Internet. Some websites to check out are:
- National Cancer Institute:
- A-Z Cancer Links
- Cancer Supportive Care
Take command of the situation. Do not be timid or shy - this is your life! Prostate Cancer treatment right now is like the proverbial glass: half empty or half full. There is no cure. You are only in remission. If you look at the charts, radiation lasts between seven to ten years with an increasing risk of leukemia.
Surgery is so widely considered the gold standard that you may be told that in some cases, there is a 92% cure rate. The problem is, it can return at a rate of 40% within two years. That is not a cure - maybe not even remission.
Double-check all the facts that you are offered, and then ask about your doctor's personal track record. This is your life. Fight for it!