Prostate cancer surgery: Life Saving, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

A new book by a prostate cancer survivor and his physician casts yet more doubt on the necessity of surgery for most prostate cancer patients.

Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, by Ralph H. Blum and Dr. Mark Scholz, an oncologist who has treated the disease exclusively since 1995, examines available prostate cancer treatments as well as the multibillion dollar prostate cancer industry. Blum, a cultural anthropologist and writer, has lived with prostate cancer for 20 years without radical treatment.

As many as 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S., most of which are overtreated, the authors maintain. Most men, they say, would be better served having their cancer managed as a chronic condition, with “active surveillance” the most effective initial treatment in most cases.

The book notes that only 1 in 7 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer are at risk for a serious form of the disease. According to Scholz, that means that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer would live just as long without surgery, and “don’t need to have their sexuality cut out.”

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine appears to support Scholz’s contention, suggesting that radical prostatectomy – still the most often recommended treatment – extended the lives of just one patient in 48.

Side effects of radical prostatectomy include incontinence, impotence and shrinking of the penis.

Source: The New York Times

You’ll find more information about the book here.

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