Whose Head is in the Sand Now?


In 2011, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) decreed, without benefit of input from urologists or oncologists, that PSA blood tests were leading inexorably to over-treatment for prostate cancer and stated that PSA screening should be halted for most men. In February 2013, I wrote that Consumer Reports Magazine had become the lapdog of […]

The Rules of Dying


A recent article in the New York Times “Wellness Blog”* grabbed my attention. Titled “Dying Shouldn’t Be So Brutal,” it began with the story of the author’s friend who was in the late stages of an incurable cancer and who was undergoing Phase 1 clinical trials for an experimental cancer drug. Phase 1 trials are […]

Proton Beam Therapy Hits Its First Economic Iceberg


In August, I wrote about the ongoing battle between Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) and conventional Electron Beam Therapy (EBT) to treat prostate cancer. Recent studies have found that there is no discernible advantage to the far more expensive PBT over EBT in treatment effectiveness of reduction of side effects. I quoted Anthony Zeitman of the Department […]

The Ugly Tradeoff: Over-Treatment vs. Preventable Death


Those of us in the prostate cancer community are all too aware of the 2011 USPSTF guidelines that call for discontinuing PSA screening for all men because a high PSA leads too often to unnecessary “over- treatment” with its expense and attendant quality of life (QoL) issues such as impotence and incontinence. Better to remain […]

Is Cancer Research Insufficiently Academic?


If you follow trends in science research, especially biomedical research focused on cancer, you know that government (taxpayer-paid) funding for research is flat to down. More scientists are battling for less grant money.  At the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the percent of grant applications that are awarded funding are “in the lower teens” down from 30% […]

Five Years and Counting


The ubiquitous 5-year benchmark of cancer survivorship dates back the 1960’s, when cancer of all kinds was usually detected only after it had metastasized (stage IV) and thus usually too late for effective treatment.  To be treated and then live for an additional five years with “no evidence of disease” (NED) gave a real poignancy […]

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Research Studies.

Mark Twain

As Mark Twain famously said,  “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  For those of us following developments in medicine and health, we could amend his statement to “there are lies, damned lies, statistics, and medical research studies.” No news cycle is complete without including the results of some new “scientific study.”  One’s […]

I Don’t Particularly Like Being a “Cancer Survivor”


A couple of months ago, I marked the five year anniversary of my diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, although “anniversary” implies a happier event than this milestone may deserve.  Yes, I’m still very much alive and am in pretty decent health, even though the after-effects of radiation and hormone therapy continue to remind me every […]

Caveat Patiens: American Cancer Marketing (part 2)

This is the second post about dubious marketing techniques newly-diagnosed cancer patients are likely to encounter.  Caveat patiens means “patient beware.”  A newly diagnosed man or woman is an attractive target for companies and institutions that can subtly (or not) exploit the natural fear induced by the word “cancer” as they market treatments that promise […]

Caveat patiens: American Cancer Marketing (part 1)

TargetdHypodermic copy

This is the first of a two-part post about dubious marketing techniques newly-diagnosed cancer patients are likely to encounter.  Like anyone who has heard the words “you” and “cancer” in the same sentence, when my urologist said, “Craig, you have a nasty cancer,” I felt as if I were looking death square in the eye. […]