Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Prostate cancer survivor conquers Africa's tallest peak | Health - WPBF Home

Prostate cancer survivor conquers Africa's tallest peak | Health - WPBF Home

The blog author and family friends climb Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and funds to cure prostate cancer. We summitted a big rock -- now we need to summit and end PC.  If you want to donate, click on our website on the right Climb2Cure Prostate Cancer... thanks!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Future gene screen?

Scientists have pinpointed a gene they say could lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. In the future, measurement of Decorin levels could become a reliable diagnostic test for prostate cancer and also help determine how aggressive the disease is. Click here for story.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A conversation with Dr. Patrick Walsh

 Dr. Patrick Walsh is a rock star in the prostate cancer world. He invented nerve-sparring prostate surgery back in the 1980s, which was a game-changer.  Before that, 100% of prostate cancer surgeries resulted in male impotence—today, it's more like 5%. He also wrote the massive book, Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer, which covers everything you need to know about this disease and the prostate. 

Check out this terrific interview on Charley Rose with Dr. Patrick Walsh, for a great overview of prostate cancer. The conversation includes a brief history of PC treatment and options, and how Dr. Walsh discovered nerve-sparring prostate surgery.  The interview was conducted in March 2008.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New drug stops prostate cancer growth in its tracks

From New York Times article, "Trial Supports Earlier Use of a Prostate Cancer Drug" (May 17, 2012) ... Drug Zytiga prevents tumors from consuming the food it needs to grow in one-third of early-stage PCs. May be useful in avoiding aggressive treatments....I'd certainly ask my doctors about it before submitting to surgery or radiation, or look for another trial.  Worth a read, here's the lead:

A new drug used to treat advanced prostate cancer may also help men if used early in the course of the disease, before an operation, researchers reported Wednesday. Zytiga limits the production of testosterone, which fuels prostate tumor growth. 

In a small clinical trial, six months of treatment with the drug, Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga, added to standard therapy, eliminated or nearly eliminated tumors in about one-third of men whose disease had not yet spread beyond the prostate gland but was considered likely to do so. 

The exact significance of this must still be determined through larger studies. But researchers said that with breast cancer and bladder cancer, patients whose tumors are eliminated before an operation, by what is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy, tend to live longer....

My note:  What is "standard therapy" in third graph? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ultrasound new hope for prostate cancer?

Imagine treating prostate cancer in one sitting with a non-invasive therapy, few if any side effects, and it cures localized prostate cancer 95% of the time?  

Well, it's here -- actually it's been here for awhile, just not in the U.S.:  High-intensity Focused Ultrasound, or Hifu, has recently gotten some buzz as the "new hope" for prostate cancer treatment, thanks to the release of a major study in the UK.

(The research was published in the April 17 Lancet Oncology. Here's an overview story from CBS News' Health Pop.)

This is all great news — however, when I first started reading the articles hitting all the major health and news outlets, all I could think about is why a credible study on HiFU hasn't been conducted in the U.S. years ago.

Hifu is a procedure where sound waves heat up the prostate and kill the cancer, without damaging healthy tissue.  It's ultrasound.  And you can consult a doctor in New York and head to the Bahamas for treatment, or just travel to Europe for the therapy.

But instead, most American men are faced with surgery or radiation options, both of which bring significant risks of incontinence and impotence to varying degrees. 

Why have we spent trillions in the U.S. on radiation and surgical treatments, drained the health care system on these expensive therapies — when ultrasound might be a simpler, less expensive and more effective therapy?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Was Warren Buffett Screened for Prostate Cancer?

Here's a good article from the New York Times that takes a look at prostate cancer in older men — Mr. Buffet — and whether or not they should be screened.

Mr. Buffet, at 81, is well beyond the recommended time when men should routinely get their PSA, which is 75 years old, according to highly regarded United States Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel that issues screening guidelines.

At Mr. Buffet's age, most men have signs of localized prostate cancer and don't know it, nor does it affect their lives, as the cancer is usually very slow growing. Ironically, the treatment (nine weeks of radiation in Mr. Buffet's case) can be worse than just living with the disease.
That said, every guy makes their own decision based on PSAs and treatment choices, based on age, life horizon, cancer grade, risk tolerance and doctor's advice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kilimanjaro 2012: Climb2Cure Prostate Cancer

Elephants roaming at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro
I need your help.

Scientists at the front lines of prostate cancer research are on the verge of exciting breakthroughs — in better and more reliable diagnostic tests, better treatments without the risks to continence and sexual function, and the Holy Grail itself, a cure.

But researchers need support — more $$$ to get to their goals.

In September 2012, I'm climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa with friends and family members to help raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the extraordinary projects they're working on.

Since being diagnosed in March 2008, I've blogged about my experience with PC and written a book, The Prostate Storm, with half of its proceeds going to the PC research. This climb is another opportunity to give back ... and have a little adventure at the same time.

If you'd like to donate to a great cause, please visit my website at Kilimanjaro 2012: Climb2Cure Prostate Cancer.

Kili: One of the world's "seven summits"
On the climb itself....

We've put together a team of six who will be climbing the Lemosho Route up the 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro over eight days.  On the sixth day, after hiking through rainforest, arid scrubs and rock fields, we will reach a final base camp at 15,500 feet.  That night, beginning at midnight, we make a final ascent for six hours under a full moon, to summit at dawn.  I'll be taking photographs and eventually post here about the journey.

Thanks for your support of prostate cancer research through our Kili climb.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rocker Ronnie Montrose dies of prostate cancer

Add hard-chugging rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose to the list of legendary rockers who died of prostate cancer, at age 64. 

Besides forming his own band in 1973, Montrose performed with a number of rockers, including Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs and the Edgar Winter Group. Montrose’s band by the same name was the launching pad for singer Sammy Hagar in the 1970s. 

"Ronnie was the most fiery, intense guitar player of everybody," Hagar said, in an article in the Los Angeles Times. "There was Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Clapton, those were the guys, but none had Ronnie's fire. He played at 100 (percent), he was just on fire _ he jumped around, just was a really high-energy performer. I learned all that from him, and everything I do today _ no ego involved _ it came from him, from seeing him perform that first time with Edgar Winter and then standing next to him within a week and rehearsing. I was always a high-energy guy, but I wasn't that way (onstage) until I got in Montrose." (Los Angeles Time, 2012)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In my book, The Prostate Storm, I write at some length about my prediagnosis experience with hematuria (blood in the urine), urinary tract irritation and infections, chronic and acute prostatitis, frequency, dribbling, burning and urgency.  They're all potential signs of advanced prostate cancer, as well as BPH and prostatitis, the other two common prostate diseases. 

I had the targeted, high-dose radiation in 2008 and, interestingly, all those symptoms have disappeared.  The cancer is gone, but so is the annoying BPH and prostatitis (apparently), which was everywhere in my pathology report. As one doctor later told me, "you got a three-fer."

With that in mind, here's a look at the symptoms for prostate cancer from an excellent site on all-things-prostate, Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide:

First of all … there are no early prostate cancer symptoms. In fact, men who develop prostate cancer may never exhibit signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, even during advanced stages. The tumor associated with adenocarcinoma of the prostate or prostatic adenocarcinoma is so small, that men do not experience symptoms. The symptoms listed below occur more commonly with BPH or prostatitis.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yale Study: Prostate cancer treatment may do more harm than good in older men

From Yale News, February 27, 2012:

Treatment is not always warranted for older men with prostate cancer and a short life expectancy, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the Feb. 27 Archives of Internal Medicine.

“Treatment can do more harm than good in some instances,” said senior author on the study Dr. Cary Gross, associate professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

“Among men who are older and have less aggressive forms of prostate cancer, their cancer is unlikely to progress or cause them harm in their remaining years.”

Gross and his team analyzed nine years of Medicare data and found that over the past decade, there has been a trend towards higher use of curative treatment for prostate cancer among men with certain types of tumors and a short life expectancy. The study included 39,270 patients between the ages of 67 and older.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inherited prostate cancer gene discovered

Men who inherit the mutation in the HOXB13 gene are at 10 to 20 times more risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a study published January 12 in The New England Journal of Medicine.  Scientists say they've been looking for this gene mutation for 20 years, and hopefully it will provide insight on prostate cancer development and ultimately finding a cure.  Click here for the story.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Breakthrough—New gene screen identifies aggressive prostate cancer

Gene screens will eventually replace Gleason scores
Your Gleason score can tell you if your prostate is cancerous, but it cannot always tell you how aggressive that cancer is -- in other words, if it's likely to be lethal.  Even patients with low Gleason scores of 5 or 6 can have a dangerous and aggressive form of cancer.

When patients have low Gleason scores, doctors may suggest watchful waiting, but many still recommend some form of aggressive treatment -- such as radiation or surgery, which can result in "collateral damage" (varying degrees of incontinence and impotence) from the therapy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What to do if diagnosed with "low risk" prostate cancer

As much as half of all diagnosed prostate cancer is low risk, meaning it's nonlethal and growing very slowly, if at all, and may be something you can live with, depending on your age and health. Yet most men, once they hear they have prostate cancer, want to get rid of it and often decide on an aggressive treatment such as surgery or radiation. As a result, they risk some potentially nasty side effects -- i.e., varying degrees of incontinence and impotence. Unfortunately, there is no single test that can clearly differentiate between low risk and high risk or aggressive prostate cancer. 

In deciding what you should do if diagnosed with prostate cancer, here is criteria that the Brady Urological Institute at John Hopkins Medicine has published on its website, in an article entitled "Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer: What A Man Needs to Know Before Deciding on Treatment."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Column: Q&A with a Radiologist on Prostate Cancer

How does radiation kill  prostate cancer cells—and leave healthy cells to recover? What is the difference between proton therapy and high-dose radiation? What is the future of radiotherapy in treating prostate cancer?

Radiologist Lisa Livingston
Radiologist Lisa Livingston tackles these and other questions, as our first guest columnist. Lisa has created the online site, Radiation Technician Schools, a good resource for radiation technicians on schools, career options, scholarship opportunities and more. Plus, you can find interesting articles on the history of the pharmaceutical industry in America, how mobile computing is changing health care delivery, and many other health care topics that interest everyone.  Check out her website and blog — and if you have additional questions about radiation and prostate cancer, send them to The Prostate Storm blog, and we’ll get them answered. (SV)

How does radiation kill cancer cells?

Radiation stops or slows the growth of cancer cells. It kills the genes (DNA) in cancer cells so that they can no longer grow and divide. Cancer cells tend to divide quickly and grow out of control, but radiation can impede this growth. It can also shrink a tumor and keep it from spreading to other parts of the body.

Radiation therapy does not always kill cancer cells immediately. Sometimes it can take days or weeks of treatment to kill cancer cells, and they may even continue to die after treatment ends. Tissues that grow quickly such as skin and bone marrow are generally affected right away, while nerve, breast, prostate and bone tissue will take longer to show affects.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The final debunking of Vitamin E: Now it raises prostate cancer risk

Vitamin E -- No longer miracle supplement for PC.
Tough week for guys trying to deal with the threat of prostate cancer:  First the PSA screen came under attack (previous post), now vitamin E.

Once believed to be a super supplement that could reduce the risk of prostate cancer, vitamin E (and selenium) were  shown to have no benefit at all several years ago. That was about the time of my diagnosis, years after I'd begun taking vitamin E.

Natually, this came as disappointing news. Since the early 2000s, men had been popping high doses of vitamin E, thinking this was an easy over-the-counter antidote to the second most deadly cancer among American men. 

I was among the poppers. Since the late '90s, I'd been besieged by urinary tract issues and an enlarged prostate, so I tried everything — including buying bottles of vitamin E at the local GNC and trying high doses, believing vitamin E was good for prostate health and would relieve my symptoms.  It didn't seem to help much. But I took vitamin E off and on for years, adding it to a cocktail of other so-called "miracle" supplements.

Interestingly, the researchers who revealed vitamin E and selenium had no benefit in 2008, continued to study the 35,000 men in the trial.  Now, three years later, they're reporting high doses of vitamin E actually increase the risk of prostate cancer.

They found an increased risk of 17 percent in men who took 400-unit capsule of vitamin E every day for about five years.  Look, that's a lot of vitamin E — about 20 times more than the recommended amount. But that wasn't unusual for guys who believed they might be preventing prostate cancer, or at least improving prostate health — like me.

Just goes to show you, if you wait long enough, all common wisdom will eventually be upended by another study.

Friday, October 7, 2011

PSA test not recommended by Task Force — but have they gone too far (again)?

The PSA test is an unreliable test that has led to serious overtreatment of prostate cancer. Few argue it's anything but a lousy screen for the second deadliest cancer among American men.

Grading cancer from 1 to 5, the least to the most aggressive
But the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force's recommendation (released next Tuesday, Oct. 11th) that the screen should no longer be given to healthy men is going way too far. (Reuters--PSA Test for prostate cancer not recommended: panel.)  Also read Prostate cancer test under fire.)

They may've over-reached in trying to protect men from the "collateral damage" of radiation and surgical treatments — i.e., varying degrees of impotence and incontinence.

I understand giving guys a "warning" that the test is not cracked up to what everyone may think — but hey, it's still the only game in town for early detection.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month; Raiders-Jets Show Support

Employees are encouraged to GO BLUE on Friday, September 16, 2011 to raise awareness for prostate cancer within the workplace. This campaign encourages employees to wear casual Friday attire, paint employee faces blue and create a blue fundraising event benefiting the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Learn more about BLUE FRIDAY.

The Oakland Raiders NFL team is supporting Blue September at their home game opener against the New York Jets on Sunday, September 25.  The game will support prostate cancer awareness and a portion of specially priced tickets purchased HERE will go to support prostate cancer research. 

Raiders legend Jim Otto, a Blue September supporter since 2010, was diagnosed with a severe case of prostate cancer in 2002 and underwent treatment that was hard on him and his family. Jim encourages people to support Blue September and support the Raiders by buying tickets to the game and getting the word out.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Urine test for prostate cancer

This development might save guys  a lot of pain and suffering — with unnecessary biopsies and even unnecessary surgeries and radiation.

A new urine test may be "significantly better" at identifying aggressive prostate cancer than a PSA test, which is very unreliable as most everyone knows. Here's the article from the Los Angeles Times article with all the details and the link to the journal Science Translational Medicine, where the study was published.

The urine test could be a first step toward putting the brakes on overtreatment, which takes place about half the time when prostate cancer is detected through a PSA test and then verified with a biopsy.  Biopsies can't differentiate between nonaggressive and aggressive cancers, so treatment is often recommended when cancer is found.

I suspect the way it MIGHT work is that physicians will continue to give PSA tests. But if cancer is detected, they might then take the urine test and see if the lab can find the two gene markers for aggressive prostate cancer in the urine. If the markers are not found, guys could be spared a biopsy and treatment — instead, proceed on a "watchful waiting" track.

FREE Guides from Prostate Cancer Foundation

An Introduction to Prostate Cancer is designed to help men, their families, and friends quickly understand the risk factors for prostate cancer, find out how it is diagnosed, and review different treatment options. (8 pages)
Order a free copy or download a copy in PDF format.
Report to the Nation on Prostate Cancer: A Guide for Men and Their Families provides in-depth information about the diagnosis of prostate cancer, the available treatment options at each stage of the disease, key issues men face at every step, and more. (108 pages)
Order a free copy or download a copy in PDF format.
Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate Cancer summarizes the “best of the best” data and information available in the research arena today. Newly revised in 2009, the guide can help everyone affected by or at risk for prostate cancer understand how to incorporate key nutritional and lifestyle strategies into their everyday life. (32 pages)
Order a free copy or download a copy in PDF format.
Straight Talk for African-American Men and Their Families provides special facts and guidance regarding African-American men and prostate cancer. Research shows that African-American men are 1.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 2.4 times more likely to die from it than Caucasian men. The guide includes personal thoughts from Charlie Wilson, D.L. Hughley and Snoop Dogg. (8 pages)
Order a free copy or download a copy in PDF format.