Wednesday, May 02, 2012

You And I And Prostate Cancer

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When I retired from Warner Bros a few years ago I was relatively young-- still in my fifties-- with everything in the world to look forward to. In fact, when I first took the job at Warner Bros many years earlier, I had retirement in mind. I had run my own indie record label in San Francisco and managed to get by on between $5,000 and $10,000 per year. And I never felt poor or in any way envious of what other people had. I felt very much on top of the world-- it just wasn't a very commercialized world. When I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to take the job at Warner Bros, my salary shot up from $10,000 to $95,000 overnight. That's more than my dad had ever made. That's more than I had ever imagined making. I figured I could work 2 years-- 3 at the tops-- save every cent and retire to a beach for the rest of my life. But it wasn't long before there was another zero on that figure... and beyond.

I bought a big house in a "nice" neighborhood, very different from my railroad flat in the Mission District (before the Mission District became gentrified). Warners made me get rid of my Mercury Comet and I wound up with fancy cars. I had to buy clothes... and things. I didn't retire.

And one day I woke up and thought, now's the time: retire. I wouldn't be able to buy my own plane, but I'd be ok unless I lived longer than anyone in the history of my family. And then, just as I was packing it in, my doctor told me I had prostate cancer. So much for the worries about outliving my savings. My father had died of prostate cancer. Actually, he didn't. He died from the treatment he got to save him from prostate cancer. A lot of people do. And in the statistics, I soon learned, those deaths don' count as deaths from prostate cancer.

But long before I was learning, I was panicked, which was how most people feel when they get that kind of a "death sentence." My doctor, gently pushed me towards surgery, although he asked me to read a book he gave me so I could make an informed decision about which kind of treatment. The urologist he introduced me too-- "the biggest in L.A.; and the stars and all the doctors use him"-- insisted on surgery. He was a surgeon, I soon learned. He was an asshole as well. I hated everything about him. But all the alternatives were abysmal. They guaranteed a miserable, brutish retirement, as you can see in the video above. In fact the head of radiology at Cedar Sinai had persuaded me to go for radiology (seed implantation) instead. When I mentioned that radiology had killed my father, she said, "Oh, we didn't know a thing about it back then. We've come so far." But that was what my dad's radiologist had told him, more or less.

And then I met Dr. Tim Brantley who taught me how to heal myself. I'm a chapter in his book, The Cure: Heal Your Body, Save Your Life. I had already come to the conclusion from the book my "regular" doctor had given me that a last chapter, "Watchful Waiting" (he didn't know that chapter was in the book) would be the best thing for me. And Tim's treatment-- change in lifestyle and diet mostly-- was "Watchful Waiting" on steroids. I lost sixty pounds, built a swimming pool so I could swim everyday, cut out the worst poisons in the American diet, like sugar and... well it's about 8 years later and I feel more healthy than I did any time I was working at Warner Bros.

And my conclusions about Medicine, Inc being all wrong with their approach? Medicine, Inc. has now come to the same conclusions. Too late for my dad. But not to late for you. Again, watch the video above... and here's a story in the Independent, one the most respected newspapers in England, from this weekend.
Cancer specialists are bracing themselves for publication of a research study that will challenge the way one of the commonest cancers is treated. The world's biggest randomised trial of prostate cancer has found that the standard surgical treatment for the disease is ineffective.

The study compared surgical removal of the prostate gland-- radical prostatectomy-- with "watchful waiting" (doing nothing). The results show that surgery did not extend life. A leading British specialist, who asked not to be named, said: "The only rational response to these results is, when presented with a patient with prostate cancer, to do nothing."

Cancer of the prostate is the commonest male cancer affecting 37,000 men a year in the UK and causing 10,000 deaths.

But in up to 50 per cent of cases it is slow-growing so that patients affected, even when left untreated, can live for many years and die of something else.

Some specialists are beginning to question whether these cases qualify for the label "cancer" at all.
The results of the Prostate Intervention Versus Observation Trial (PIVOT), led by Timothy Wilt and started in 1994 with 731 men, showed that those who underwent the operation had less than a three per cent survival benefit compared with those who had no treatment, after being followed up for 12 years. The difference was not statistically significant and could have arisen by chance.

When the findings were presented at a meeting of the European Association of Urology in Paris in February, attended by 11,000 specialists from around the world, they were greeted with a stunned silence.

One expert who attended the meeting said that while most research results are immediately transmitted by specialists in the audience using social media, "I did not see any urologists enthusiastically tweeting about [this one]."

Prostate cancers are already classified as "tigers" (aggressive) or "pussy cats" (low risk). But some urologists who have spent years training to perform complex surgical techniques find the idea of watchful waiting unacceptable.

Surgery carries a risk of side effects that can have a serious impact on quality of life with 50 per cent of men suffering impotence and 10 per cent incontinence.

According to the NY Times hustlers and clueless doctors are still pushing ineffective-- at best-- treatment. When I asked a friend, a doctor, why those in his profession never consider warning people away from sugar, fast food, and other unhealthy things people eat, he told me that his entire time in medical school-- including advanced degrees for surgery-- included one two-hour lecture on nutrition. One. And yet... "The US National Cancer Institute reports that males who include greater than one third an ounce of chives, garlic, onions and scallions have a greatly reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.

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3 Comments:

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

Wow! Doing nothing might be better, aside from diet. Wow. Who woulda known?

 
At 10:53 PM, Blogger Kevin Whitworth said...

Thanks for posting. My father "survived" radiation treatment awhile ago, and though they nicked his colon a bit, he's fine now. But now it's time for me to be tested - or maybe not. I am reminded of a quote from Timothy Leary prior to succumbing to the disease - something to the effect of, "If only I had known an orgasm a day would have helped." I don't know where he got his information, but I have followed this maxim whenever possible, just in case. And I also eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

 
At 5:26 AM, Blogger David Bonello said...

The study coming out now has the same results of the ongoing study at the VA....doing nothing extends life more than invasive techniques. I've been writing about cancer for over twenty years (www.mnwelldir.org) and I know that the War on Cancer, the ACA, and the NCI are all frauds. Cancer is profitable. Everyone should search the web for Dr Sam Chachoua. His therapies have been called the most promising cancer cure ever...and then one morning he started his car and it burst into a ball of flames. It's time to quit supporting a system that doesn't support us.

 

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