A new study shows nearly half of men feel worse after having their prostate gland removed due to cancer, although three-quarters would do it again given the same circumstances.
Tens of thousands of men each year undergo the surgery, called prostatectomy, and may suffer long-term consequences to their quality of life, in particular sexual function.
In the current study, published in the Journal of Urology, researchers asked 236 men how they were doing up to 1 year after surgery.
Three out of four had regained their physical and mental well-being and had no more problems with incontinence than before the operation. But just one out of four had recovered his ability to have intercourse.
The research team, led by Dr. Adrian Treiyer at St. Antonius Hospital in Eschweiler, Germany, also teased out the circumstances that were tied to better recovery.
Men were more likely to get their quality of life back if they had a type of surgery that leaves the nerves controlling erection intact, for instance, and if they participated in a rehabilitation program.
While the study doesn’t prove that rehab is helpful — men who did better might be likely to join such a program, for example — the possibility is worth noting, said Dr. Mark Litwin, a urologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.
Rehab programs, which are relatively new in prostate cancer care, can include talk therapy or a drug regimen to treat erectile dysfunction.
“It’s not just about recovery of the penis and its ability to become erect, but helping men come to terms with being a cancer survivor,” Litwin told Reuters Health.
Both physical well-being, such as experiencing less pain, and mental health, including feeling good and functioning well socially, were tied to remaining continent and not encountering any complications after surgery.
“Some of these things, no one can control, such as baseline PSA,” Litwin said. “But some they can. Patients can doctor-shop and find the best care.”
In the type of surgery the patients had, surgeons make a cut between the belly button and the pubic bone to get to the prostate, which is then removed entirely — so-called radical prostatectomy.
About one in six American men get prostate cancer at some point in their life, according to the American Cancer Society. But they don’t necessarily have to have their prostate removed because of it.
Some may get radiation treatment instead, or they may have their tumor destroyed by a kind of surgery that uses freezing liquids. Others may choose just to be monitored — so-called watchful waiting — to see if the cancer grows slowly enough to be safely ignored.
All of these strategies have problems of their own, and the right option depends on both the cancer and the patient’s values.
Litwin said most studies have focused on the drawbacks to prostate cancer surgery, and indeed, the new findings confirm that most men have worse sexual function after the procedure.
“Quality of life definitely takes a hit, both physically and emotionally,” Litwin added, “but ultimately, it tends to go back to normal.”
Prostate cancer is a serious health concern in Georgia. According to the American Cancer Society, the state of Georgia ranks 11th in number of estimated deaths per capita from the disease. In an effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer and ensure more men commit to be informed and screened, several companies and media organizations have joined the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition in launching a pledge campaign.
The Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition, RC Cancer Centers and the Georgia Department of Community Health along with the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers, UPS, CR Bard, WXIA Television, Morehouse School of Medicine, KISS 104.1 Radio and WSB Radio are supporting this initiative to increase prostate cancer awareness throughout the state of Georgia.
“Specifically, we are encouraging every man who is over the age of 40 in Georgia to speak to his doctor and take the pledge to get screened for prostate cancer,” said Frank Catroneo, Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition Board Member. “Our goal is to have 10,000 men in Georgia pledge to have the conversation with their doctors and/or be screened between now and April 20, 2011.”
M. Rony Francois, MD, MSPH, PhD, Director, DCH Division of Public Health and State Health Officer said, “I look forward to the potential that this pledge campaign holds in increasing the number of men who talk to their doctor about prostate cancer screening.”
To encourage prostate cancer discussions and screenings, the Atlanta Hawks and the Georgia Prostate Cancer Pledge committee will provide two tickets to several Atlanta Hawks home games, starting with the December 7th home game versus the New Jersey Nets, to the first 2,000 men who commit to being screened for the first time. Men can visit http://www.hawks.com/ or http://www.georgiaprostatecancerpledge.com/ to make their screening pledge and redeem their complimentary tickets online.
There will be a number of activities and events to help educate men and their loved ones, and to bring awareness to the serious health impact of prostate cancer for all concerned. The events will culminate in April with a prostate cancer symposium, a golf tournament, a motorcycle ride, video testimonials of survivors and much more.
Michael Holton, president and COO of RC Cancer Centers, which specializes in the ProstRcision treatment for prostate cancer said, “Throughout the campaign, we will be offering free of charge PSA screenings for men over 40 years old, who have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer or previously treated for this disease. They can be screened at any one of our five locations in Georgia. For screening locations, visit http://www.rccancercenters.com/.”
Current data available from Georgia Department of Community Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society show:
“It is crucial for men to maintain an ongoing relationship with their healthcare provider as the risk for prostate cancer will vary from person to person,” said Roland Matthews, M.D., from Morehouse School of Medicine and Director of Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System.
A prostate screening PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) is a simple blood test which will not define a man’s prostate cancer status, but provides the basis for men to start the right conversations with their doctor. When prostate cancer is detected early, it is a very curable disease.
To learn more about this prostate cancer initiative, visit www.GeorgiaProstateCancerPledge.com .
By Rebecca Webber
Mary McGuire-Wien and her husband, Charles Wildbank, had been searching for a new home on Long Island for more than a year, but every place they’d seen was either unsuitable or unaffordable. After one long Sunday of unsuccessful house-hunting with their agent, the couple was anxious to get back home, but got stuck at a traffic light right next to an old barn that was under renovation. “A guy in a hard hat looked over at us and said, ‘Are you looking for a house?’” says Mary.
Though the barn didn’t look like a house—it didn’t even have any visible windows—Mary and her husband got out to take a look. The building turned out to be loftlike, with beautiful historical details (including back-facing windows). “A normal family probably wouldn’t want it,” says Mary. “But it was absolutely perfect for us because we needed a space where I could have a yoga retreat, and where Charles could paint.” They agreed to buy the place from the construction worker, who turned out to be the barn’s owner.
Mary and Charles could be considered fortunate—what are the chances that the owner would stop them when they were most in need of a home? And yet, they were the ones who agreed to investigate an unlikely prospect. Their open-mindedness turned a strange moment into a lucky break.
People who spot and seize opportunity are different. They are more open to life’s forking paths, so they see possibilities others miss. And if things don’t work out the way they’d hoped, they brush off disappointment and launch themselves headlong toward the next fortunate circumstance. As a result, they’re happier and more likely to achieve their goals.
Psychologists are figuring out why some people always seem to juggle incredible opportunities. Their insights can help us all lead luckier lives.
To read about these insights and the rest of the article, click here.
Two years after undergoing a double mastectomy and chemotherapy so severe she was hospitalized in intensive care for several weeks, breast cancer survivor Denise Hicks should be following what her doctors call “the plan.”
“I should be taking medication, I should be having tests and lab work,” says the 51-year-old Californian. “But my choice is to pay virtually every cent I have to do that or be able to pay for my rent, food and gas.”
Hicks has health insurance but already reached her coverage limits. So the CT scan that her oncologist “strongly advised” months ago to check a possible recurrence remains undone. “It would cost me $4,700 out of pocket—money I just can’t afford.” She’s also skipping recommended medications. “One drug would cost me $167 a month and another is $200 a month,” she says.
“So what am I doing? Well, I may soon be moving in with my 83-year-old mother, who lives in a trailer. But for now, I pray a lot,” Hicks says. Click here to read the full article.
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Also known as RC Cancer Centers.