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October 2004 Issue
Prostate Cancer: It's Not Just for Men.
by Michael Fick
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Now, as any dog can tell you, getting fixed has its downside. But these days, if the red flags catch and let you cure your PC early, odds are you'll be using your bed for both its intended purposes and the toilet for both its intended purposes, with no mixups and minimal failures, for decades to come. With tests finding PC much earlier and with great improvements in prostate surgery and radiation treatments, the cures are way up and the side effects are way down just since the 1980s. Guys, be real men . . . get both tests regularly. Women, if you want your husbands alive and functioning properly for decades to come, make them get those tests.

If PSA thresholds are exceeded and the biopsy indicates cancer, there's a must-read book for the patient and probably the closest other person in his life. It's the "Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer" by Dr. Patrick Walsh, a preeminent PC specialist. It is the gold standard PC patient's reference, and is written exceptionally clearly by a professional writer. (Her preface is riveting.) It's crammed so full of practical, useful information on PC - physiology, tests, treatments, and desired and undesired effects -- that it is all but overwhelming the first time through. PC patients will want to study the book because the patient's options are too complex and personal to leave every decision up to doctors. For starting on a less detailed level, "Prostate Cancer for Dummies" is written by another world-class expert in the field, Dr. Paul Lange. I wouldn't want to make the decisions I'm making without having read both books.

But, I tell ya, if my delay has limited my options, I'd rather be windsurfing another 20 years, and the heck with a little thing like how well my little thing works, than thinking with my little thing while the snail wins the real race in 10. More important, if I had known enough to double-check my primary care provider, I may not be considering such a choice in the first place. You now know enough to prevent that and beat the snail, if you start taking action with baseline testing in your 30s.

A closing caveat: we can get PC without elevated PSA . . . the classic false negative. If you are in a high-risk group - over 65, black, have a close relative with PC, or eat lots of animal fat (e.g., the Atkins diet!) -- consult a urologist even if your PSA is fine.

When you ask the web about PC, wear your hip boots. The Prostate Cancer Research Institute is one of hundreds of good sites, but there are thousands of commercial pitches out there, too. If you don't recognize a source, click instead on one you do.

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