The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Are we better off without prostate exams?

with 4 comments

Guys my age think about prostate cancer.  We get our blood tested.  We present our arses to doctors with long fingers.

But today’s New York Times reports on two large studies, both of which suggest that we may be in worse trouble with the exams than without them.

Compare the lines on the chart at left. The black line represents deaths from prostate cancer among those of us who do as we’re told.  Here’s the funny thing: it’s higher than the red line, in the end—meaning it’s actually a hair less common for those who haven’t been screened to die of prostate cancer!

The second study (beneath the graph) concluded that “for every man whose death was prevented, 48 men received risky and unnecessary treatment.”

Meaning many ended up with impotence, incontinence, or chronic pain who weren’t going to die from prostate cancer in the first place.

Apparently, most prostate cancer grows very slowly; we die from other things before it gets serious enough to nail us.  But if we have exams, and we have it, it usually gets treated with surgery or radiation, either one of which may have more serious effects on us than having the cancer itself.

More studies will come, and the results of these findings may be reversed someday.

At the moment, I’m leaning toward less latex.

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Written by Monte

March 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

4 Responses

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  1. Moli- which results do you mean?

    opit- thanks – I sort of fell into that alliteration and decided I was obliged to keep it!


    March 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  2. Mammograms use radiation – which increase cancer. Doc Proc doesn’t do that. Medicine does have a tendency to use what you won’t get sued for doing – even when it makes no sense.
    But when you quipped ‘lean away from the latex’ – it was snigger time.


    March 21, 2009 at 4:08 pm

  3. Mmmmmmm – I think most physicians, particularly urologists, use a multifactorial approach to initiation of therapy. I have a very hard time believing these results are skewed by limitation of the data set.


    March 21, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  4. […] “Are we better off without prostate exams?” – Monte Asbury’s Blog […]

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