Following is a link to a recent Reader’s Digest article on cancer screening. (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id2942490/) The article summarizes some current thinking that too much screening causes unnecessary treatment of cancers that will never become life threatening. The author cites the views of a Veterans Affairs doctor that takes this view concerning prostate cancer. While I am not a physician, I am a five year prostate cancer survivor who is still here because of an accidental diagnosis of Stage 2 prostate cancer. Since 29,000 men die annually in the US from prostate cancer (that is almost 300,000 men each decade), I find the argument that there is too much screening difficult to accept. What is leads me to believe is that our screening programs and regimes are not sufficiently widespread and effective. I have yet to find any database that shows the following minimal data for each annual cohort of prostate cancer deaths: 1) age at diagnosis; 2) state at diagnosis; 3) method of diagnosis; 4) treatment regime; 5) age at mortality; 6) % experiencing erectile or incontinence issues. Until we have that data, it would seem to be difficult to argue on either side of the screening controversy. As a prostate cancer survivor, though, I think I would argue for a more widespread screening program (only 51% of men currently test). Personally, I would prefer to live an additional 5 – 10 years even if I did so with some degree of incontinence or erectile dysfunction, and I know my wife feels the same. I would love to hear your comments.
I am a prostate cancer survivor, Class of 2003, retired Army officer, business owner, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future, Annenberg School, USC, USA Cycling coach, amateur competitive cyclist, Harley Davidson enthusiast, and writer.
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