Prostate Cancer Facts
By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com
Debunking Exaggerated Claims About Risks And Treatment Benefits
With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States. Medical autopsy studies show that by age seventy, 70 percent of men who die from accidental deaths are found to have prostate cancer.
The simple fact is that if you are a male and you eat similarly to other Americans, you eventually will get prostate cancer. No one can escape from the biological laws of cause and effect, and the Standard American Diet (SAD) is powerfully cancer- promoting. The good news is that only an extremely small number of men eventually die from their prostate cancers. The prostate cancer death rate is 226 per 100,000 male deaths over age sixty-five, which is a pretty small death rate.
All of the biopsies, treatments, and surgeries done in the hope of helping men with prostate cancer live longer cause significant side effects, such as incontinence, rectal bleeding, and impotence.
It is reasonable to ask if men actually benefit from such invasive intervention, including the destruction of part of the prostate or its removal. Are the side effects balanced by clearcut advances in life expectancy?
Long-Term Side Effects
The side effects of prostate cancer treatment are debilitating and demoralizing, and the percentage of patients who suffer from them is shockingly high.
- Erectile dysfunction: over 50%
- Bowel dysfunction: over 10%
- Urinary dysfunction: over 20%
In spite of being heavily marketed to patients by physicians, PSA (prostate- specific antigen) screening and the resultant treatments that follow have never been shown in medical studies to prolong life. In my “Why Prostate Screening and Treatments Don’t Work” article on page 3 of this newsletter, I explain some of the complicated issues regarding testing for and treatment of prostate cancer, to help you understand why it might be wiser to reject PSA screening for prostate cancer.
After a comprehensive review of the scientific studies available on this important issue, my conclusion is that men who are found to have low grade prostate cancer would be better off not knowing about it because it is extremely unlikely to be their cause of death. Low-grade prostate cancer results in only 6 deaths per 1,000 patient years (number of patients with the disease multiplied by number of years they live after their cancer diagnosis),seen after 20 years of follow-up care.1
Men who are found to have high grade prostate cancer do not benefit from surgery or radiation to their prostate, either. Invariably, this type of prostate cancer already has spread outside of the prostate when it is first diagnosed, and whether CT scans and bone scans show cancers outside of the prostate that are visible on these tests or not, it is still there. There is no technology to measure cancer at the microscopic level. So bone scans, CT scans, and MRIs cannot offer reassurance that the cancer has not spread. Cutting out, radiating, burning, and freezing the prostate with this more aggressive type of prostate cancer is futile. Yet, thousands of prostate operations and procedures are performed all over the country, every day, without probable benefit.
When it comes to the treatment of the higher-grade forms of prostate cancer, typically distinguished with a high Gleason score, only nutritional excellence and hormonal therapy— which can treat the cancerous cells that have already left the prostate, as well—are worthwhile.
For the majority of men treated for prostate cancer, it appears that their lives would have been much better off if their prostate cancer had never been diagnosed, since it is most likely that the side effects experienced from the treatment are not balanced by an increase in life span.
1. Albertsen PC, Hanley JA, Fine J. 20-year outcomes following conservative management of clinically localized prostate cancer. JAMA 2005;293 (17):2095-2101