I've been called everything from crazy to irresponsible for claiming that men with prostate cancer should often delay or skip treatment. After yet another study has proven me correct, I'm expecting an apology card and a muffin basket (probably some low-fat, soy-based garbage) from the mainstream medical establishment any day.
Men with prostate cancer often face one of two treatment scenarios --surgery or hormone blocking drugs. I've told you before how prostate cancer surgery is needlessly causing tens of thousands of men each year a lifetime of problems such as impotence and incontinence-- often without removing the cancer. But doctors are starting to learn that the hormone blockers that prevent the production of androgen are no walk in the park, either. In fact, they could kill you.
Hormone blockers better at killing than curing
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association tracked more than 19,000 men with prostate cancer over a period of six years. The men were all 66 and older--like many of my readers.
Guess what the researchers found? The men who were treated by hormone blockers had a higher rate of death than the men who skipped or delayed treatment. Surprised? I'm not. These drugs have been linked to heart disease and diabetes--not to mention impotence. Even the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer, reacting to the study, said he hoped doctors would be more cautious about giving these drugs to older prostate cancer patients.
But, of course, some doctors just can't help themselves. They can't stomach the idea of leaving a cancerous tumor in your body, even if it may be slow-growing and even if the treatment is more likely to kill you than the disease. Keep in mind that, although the mortality statistics on men using hormone blockers may be new, doctors have known about their side effects for years.
And, most doctors (at least the good ones) should know what I've been telling you all along: prostate cancer tumors typically grow so slowly that they never threaten the lives of the men they afflict. Natural causes will kill those men long before the tumors have the chance. And the reality is, if you have a fast-growing tumor, you're doomed anyway.
But, the truth is, I can't promise you this latest study is going to change a darned thing. Like I said, most doctors just can't help themselves--in the medical profession, doing nothing takes too much courage. And most docs don't have the spine for it. They'll take comfort when the pharma giants deploy spin doctors to convince them the drugs are still safe.
But I'm not easily fooled, and you shouldn't be either. If you're ever diagnosed with prostate cancer, do the brave--and smart--thing. Take a wait-and-see approach.