No, Prostate Cancer is Not the ‘Good Cancer’

No, Prostate Cancer is Not the ‘Good Cancer’
It won't take too long in your journey with prostate cancer before you'll hear someone say, "You have the good cancer." I understand the person saying that means well. There's some basis in survival rates to think that prostate cancer is the "good cancer." The five-year survival rate for most men with local or regional prostate cancer is almost 100 percent. Ninety-eight percent are alive after 10 years, and 96 percent live for at least 15 years. For men whose cancer is confined to their prostate, those survival rates are good news, but there are many sides to living with prostate cancer. According to, for men diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is 29 percent. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. Ask a widow or a family member who lost their dad or son to prostate cancer if they think prostate cancer is "the good cancer." A large percentage of men who choose to treat their cancer aggressively face lifelong quality-of-life issues such as the loss of urinary control, climacturia, erectile dysfunction, and bladder or bowel irritation, to name a few unwanted quality-of-life issues after treatment. Additionally, living with the possibility of a recurrence or a spreading of the cancer takes a toll, every day. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of calling prostate cancer "the good cancer" is that the comment convinces those coping with cancer that you are either ignorant or inconsiderate. I can't imagine a cancer survivor saying something so thoughtless to another cancer survivor. It demonstrates such a lack of understanding, that it's a relationship-damaging remark. I asked men who follow my Facebook Prostate Surgery Supp
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One comment

  1. Stephen B. Strum, MD, FACP says:

    Dear Rick,
    I agree with your commentary. Every person with any disease, cancer or otherwise, needs to be evaluated in the context of their individual biology. Now we are calling this personalized medicine but this is always what we physicians should have been doing to the best of our ability from Time 0. The MD degree, as I have mentioned in many lectures over decades of work with prostate cancer, should equate with “Medical Detective”. The real physician obtains validated info of major prognostic importance and uses all available tools such as nomograms and artificial neural nets and more recently gene expression profiling (GEP) to then advise the patient of his or her options.
    In the arena of prostate cancer (PC), the Gleason score is often read by pathologists who are not specifically focused on PC. The same is true of most oncologists who see men with PC; they are not focused on this disease. When I subspecialized in PC starting in 1983, I was shocked at how ignorant I was about many aspects involving PC. So hearing the glib remark about PC as the “good” cancer is no surprise to me. Growing up back East, I remember the wooden plaque on the wall that said “Vee get too soon olde and too late schmart.” —Old Russian proverb
    How prophetic was that!?

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