Prostate Cancer

 

 by Les Winick

 

PC Support Group

Meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7pm

at the Galesburg Clinic, 3315 N. Seminary St. Lower level.

Spouses welcome. No dues. Coffee and cookies served.

Usually has a guest speaker, then discussion among members.

Affiliated with US TOO International.

 

There is no known cure or treatment for prostate cancer.

A pathologist friend told me that many more men die with prostate cancer then because of it. As head of a hospital lab for 20-plus years, with more than 100 employees, he said that an informal guess is that 80 percent of the men who died there had prostate cancer in varying stages, but did not die from that disease.

Incidentally, as far as I know, no one has ever been “cured” when diagnosed with prostate cancer. The best you can hope for is that it remains dormant and does not go into your lymph nodes, which will spread the disease throughout the body.

If you are a male, 40 years old or older, you should take the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen, a protein that can signal cancer) test. Your physician can arrange for this simple blood test. However, and this is important to remember, the big clue to beating PC is not the PSA result, but how fast your PSA is rising. Therefore, if your PSA is above 2.5 (That’s an arbitrary figure, since no one knows what the baseline should be — probably zero) then the PSA test should be repeated in about six months, in order to obtain a rate of growth.

My first PSA was 59.7 on Jan. 18, 1996 and I’m still around. I was scared stiff, had surgery the next month to have the prostate removed, as recommended by the urologist, and had a major heart attack in the hospital two days after the surgery. A doctor told my wife to call our children and make arrangements at a funeral home for that evening. The nurses wrote “Lazarus” on top of my hospital chart. If I had died, the cause of death would have been listed as a heart attack, but I am convinced that I would not have had the heart attack if I hadn’t had the surgery.

Gina Kolata, in an article in the N.Y. Times, June 20, 2005 used this headline: “PSA no longer gives clear answers.” Ms Kolata reports that doctors should be “forgoing treatment and instead be monitoring regularly for changes in their tumor’s growth.”

On the other hand, a study published in the Journal of Urology by Dr. T. Stamey, Professor of Urology at Stanford University School of Medicine, stated that PSA tests were virtually useless. PSA levels, in most men, from 2 to 10 “are caused by nothing more than a harmless enlargement of the prostate that occurs when men age. Yes, even the doctors are confused.

Yet, another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that a majority of men whose cancers are found with the PSA test, will do “... perfectly well with no treatment for at least 20 years.” But, again, a PSA test should be taken at regular intervals to check if the PSA levels are shooting up. Taking the PSA test is a lot less expensive and much less harmful then treatment.

There is another caveat that all men should be aware of. A doctor will want to take a biopsy, or samples from your prostate if they feel that cancer is present. The prostate is a very small pouch within your body. If the cancer in your prostate is on the prostate wall, there is a chance that by taking a sample out of the cancerous portion, a tear might occur in the wall, and, if you have cancer, it can spread to the rest of your body.

The physician is also dragging the diseased tissue sample through the prostate via your rectum to put into a tissue sample vial. The sample contains blood which drips during this journey, and can be carried to other organs within your body. Incidentally, this is a subject which is not discussed by physicians because there is no way to prove that the tissue sample is causing a spread of the disease or is not spreading the disease.

Only a few years ago, Patrick Walsh, the number-one prostate surgeon/urologist in the U.S., wrote in one his books that if you do not have surgery immediately after diagnosed with prostate cancer, you would be destined to die a very miserable and painful death within two years. Remember, a surgeon makes his/her living by performing operations.

Once you have taken one or more PSA tests over a period of time, you can calculate the doubling rate, or what your PSA level is likely to be five or ten years from the date of the last test. My PSA went from 0.2 to 8.5 within two years after my operation. The urologist wanted to start using chemicals to treat the disease. However, my research had shown that this did cure the cancer, only masked it for a period of time. I’ll repeat my first sentence “There is no known cure or treatment for prostate cancer.” The urologist that had operated on me told me, “Don’t bother to come back to see me again.” I honored his request. Gladly.

I started studying alternative treatments for prostate cancer. I literally spent days and weeks and months on the computer and in hospital libraries looking for the answer. I questioned medical practitioners on the various treatment options and how effective they were, vs. watchful waiting and herbal medication.

A herbal compound, originating in China, but put together in California, PC SPES, showed some promising results with PC patients. I was able to reduce my PSA to almost zero after four months on this herbal concoction. It stayed at that level for several years.

However, the side effects should be mentioned. My breasts enlarged; yes, I even had a mammogram since I was so concerned. Nails became brittle, and I had tingling sensations in various parts of my body. The mammogram was negative. But my PSA tests were very low, .01, and I felt great. The “side effect’ of a heart attack and triple bypass surgery, after my prostate operation, was nothing to be ignored either.

The manufacturer of PC SPES ran into legal problems, and it was discontinued. I was determined to stay with herbs. I went on a clinical trial using Careseng, another Chinese combination of herbs that was being used in Canada. That worked for me for several years, when I realized that my PSA was slowly, but surely climbing. Then I switched to Prostasol, another herbal combination that used some of the same herbs used in PC SPES, with a few additions.

There is a story that years ago the World Health Organization wanted to do a study of prostate cancer in China. They sent a team to China to get 1,000 men to participate in the study. They could not find 1,000 men in a country with hundreds of millions in population that were diagnosed with prostate cancer. PC is still a relatively minor disease in Asian countries.

A study released June 11, 2005, headlined “Vitamin D May prevent Prostate Cancer” conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, stated that there is a higher risk of prostate cancer in African American males, older men, and men who live in the northern latitudes of the U.S. Rallie McAllister, M.D., MPH., was the author of the study.

The theory stated in this study is that there is a pigment called melanin in the skin of African Americans that blocks ultraviolet light, which is responsible for converting inactive vitamin D to the active form in the body. Asian men have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer in the world, which may be due to their diet that is rich in fish.

US TOO was founded in February 1990 and has been a primary source of support and education for men diagnosed with prostate disease, especially prostate cancer. They have chapters, similar to the one in Galesburg, in more than 400 cities in the United States, with more than 60,000 members. Research has shown that cancer patients who join a support group read and study about their specialized disease, ask questions of others in the same situation, and live longer and better than those who do not take advantage of this support.