If I hear it one more time I am going to tear my hair out. What do you mean that prostate cancer is not fatal, prostate cancer is the second largest cancer killer after only lung cancer.

TARA PARKER-POPE wrote in yesterdays New York Times a health article,
“Screen or Not? What Those Prostate Studies Mean.” The article is (as usual from Ms. Parker-Poe) a well balanced discussion about the recent issues surrounding PSA testing ( see my posts of Friday 3-21 and Monday 3-23).

Despite my being a fan of Ms. Parker-Popes writings, her inclusion of the comments of
the co-author of the American study, Dr. Gerald L. Andriole Jr., makes me want to tear my hair out. Dr. Andriole’s statement that prostate cancer is usually not fatal drives me nuts. Sadly, we hear this type of comment again and again, but it ignores the simple reality that prostate cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of men behind only lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society in 2008 alone, 28,660 men died from prostate cancer. In my world any disease that kills over 3 men each and every hour of each and every day can not be considered a nonfatal disease.

Prostate cancer treatments do come with a major cost to a man’s quality of life and yes, there is a significant amount of over treatment, but the real problem lies with our inability to deferential between which cancers will be aggressive and kill. As a nation, we need to make a larger commitment to understanding prostate cancer by increasing research funding. Clearly, some physicians do need to be more careful in how they advise their patients after diagnosis. Not all prostate cancer needs to be treated, active surveillance is an excellent option for many men, but for others only diagnosis and treatme