According to the American Cancer Society prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer and colorectal cancer. About one man in 39 will die of prostate cancer.
In addition, the number of younger men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased nearly six-fold in the past 20 years. Prostate cancer is more likely to be aggressive in these younger men, according to an analysis from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
In 2012 The U.S Preventive Services Task Force came out against prostate cancer screening. They made this recommendation to protect men from choosing unnecessarily aggressive treatments that result in permanent and devastating quality-of-life issues. The unspoken assumption here is the best way to prevent men from making bad treatment decisions is to keep them in the dark about prostate cancer.
Unfortunately, many doctors continue to follow this recommendation. They don’t offer their patients the opportunity for prostate cancer screening. Most men are either unaware, or glad to skip this part of an exam.
There’s a good reason and explanation why men tend to over-treat their cancer. There’s something crucial that should be treated before prostate cancer. It’s an emotion that’s usually ignored. That emotion is FEAR.
When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was convinced I was given a death sentence. The idea that I could survive prostate cancer never occurred to me. In this state of fear, I wanted the most aggressive treatment available in order to buy as much time as possible.
No one asked me about the people I knew with cancer who died within a year of their diagnosis. No one knew that I thought I’d die from prostate cancer. No one corrected my misperceptions or helped me cope with my fears.
In an article I wrote for Alternative Medicine Magazine, I proposed a way to help men get past their fears in order to make the best treatment decisions available. This makes infinitely more sense than keeping men in the dark by doing away with screening.
I believe insurance companies could save millions of dollars every year if they’d provide men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer three one-hour sessions with a healthcare professional, such as a nurse or medical social worker.
The goal of this session is to help men (and their loved ones,) process their past experiences with cancer with a goal of helping men understand the difference between their perception and past experience with cancer vs. their current situation. Introducing the possibility that it’s possible to survive a diagnosis of prostate cancer without aggressive treatment is important for men to hear — after their fears are adequately addressed.
The second session takes place after a Gleason Score and other test results are available. In this session the patient is given specific information about their prostate cancer. Here the patient is provided with written information to help him understand the aggressiveness, or lack thereof, regarding his prostate cancer.
Involves a discussion of the various treatment options and the quality-of-life issues that arise from the various treatment options. A decision to how to treat their prostate cancer is made some time after this information is given to the patient. If there are further questions, or a need for a referral, these issues are resolved after Session #3.
It’s well documented that fear-based decisions result in overly aggressive and unnecessary treatment that does not prolong life, and leaves men with lifelong quality-of-life issues, such as the loss of urinary control or erectile dysfunction.
Treating fear before cancer provides men with the opportunity to base their treatment decisions on their diagnosis rather than their fears.
What are your thoughts about the benefits of treating fear before treating prostate cancer?
Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Prostate Cancer News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to prostate cancer.