29000 Men Comment
Below is a copy of my letter to the editor that was published in the LA Times on 10/27/2009. It was slightly shortened to conform to the 150 word limit. Eliminated was my comment that the annual prostate cancer death rate has dropped from the 40,000 men per year in the pre-PSA test era to the approximately 29,000 deaths per year today. If the current debate is successful in convincing men they do need to test and track their PSA, we very likely will see a return to the 40,000 per year death rate. This would mean that an additional 100,000 men would die unnecessarily from prostate cancer each decade.
I believe that we need to focus more on prostate cancer prevention and methods to effectively determine which cancers are the aggressive killers. See the Times letter below.
LA Times Opinion Section, October 27, 2009
Cancer risks and diagnoses
Re “With cancer, it’s always personal,” Oct. 25
Thank you for running Paul Lieberman’s Op-Ed article on prostate and breast-cancer screening.
I would, however, retitle his article, “With Cancer, it’s never real until it’s personal. ” My point is that one only comes to terms with cancer after we, personally, are diagnosed. The danger with the current discussion over prostate cancer testing is that the continual focus on possible post-treatment problems may drive the annual PSA testing rate below the current meager rate.
The principal issue with PSA testing is not with the number of men tested but with the treatment decisions made by cancer patients and their physicians. What men need is better information about prostate cancer risk and treatment options, but with real statistics about post-treatment side effects attached.
And, of course, the ability of physicians to be able to reliably differentiate between benign and aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Robert W. Hess