Tag Archives: prostate cancer

When screening for disease, risk is as important to consider as benefits – study

Physicians and patients like to believe that early detection of cancer extends life, and quality of life. If a cancer is present, you want to know early, right? Maybe not.

An analysis of cancer screenings by a University of Virginia statistician and a researcher at the National Cancer Institute indicates that early diagnosis of a cancer does not necessarily result in a longer life than without an early diagnosis. And screenings – such as mammograms for breast cancer and prostate-specific antigen tests for prostate cancer – come with built-in risks, such as results mistakenly indicating the presence of cancer (false positives), as well as missed diagnoses (false negatives). Patients may undergo harsh treatments that diminish quality of life while not necessarily extending it.

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Yet the benefits of early diagnosis through screening often are touted over the risks.

“It is difficult to estimate the effect of over-diagnosis, but the risk of over-diagnosis is a factor that should be considered,” said Karen Kafadar, a UVA statistics professor and co-author of a study being presented Sunday at a session of the 2017 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “How many diagnosed cases would never have materialized in a person’s lifetime, and gone successfully untreated? Treatments sometimes can cause harm, and can shorten life or reduce quality of life.”

Kafadar is not advocating against screening, but her findings show that frequent screening comes with its own risks. As a metric for evaluation, reduction in mortality is considered the standard. So if a disease results in 10 deaths per 100,000 people in a year, and screening reduces the deaths to six per 100,000 people, then there seems to be an impressive 40 percent reduction in mortality.

However, a more meaningful metric, Kafadar said, may be: “How much longer can a person whose case was screen-detected be expected to live, versus a case that was diagnosed only after clinical symptoms appeared?” This issue becomes harder to discern – how long a patient survives after a diagnosis versus how long the patient might have lived anyway. Some cancer cases might never become apparent during a person’s lifetime without screening, but with screening might be treated unnecessarily, such as for a possibly non-aggressive cancer. And some aggressive forms of disease may shorten life even when caught early through screening.

Kafadar and her collaborator, National Cancer Institute statistician Philip Prorok, gathered long-term data from several study sources, including health insurance plans and the National Cancer Institute’s recently completed long-term randomized control trial on prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer, to consider several factors affecting the value of screening – over-diagnosis, lead time on a diagnosis and other statistical distortions – to look at not just how many people die, but also life extension.

“People die anyway of various causes,” Kafadar said, “but most individuals likely are more interested in, ‘How much longer will I live?’ Unfortunately, screening tests are not always accurate, but we like to believe they are.”

Because the paper considers together the factors that affect statistical understanding of the effectiveness of screening, rather than looking at each of these factors in isolation as previous studies have done, it offers a new statistical methodology for teasing out the relative effects of cancer screening’s benefits and risks.

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Is Exercise one way of beating prostate cancer?

A new study suggests that exercise may reduce Caucasian men’s risk of developing prostate cancer. And among Caucasian men who do have prostate cancer, exercise may reduce their risk of having more serious forms of the disease. Unfortunately, the benefits do not seem to apply to African-American men. The study is published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Blue man running

Silhouette of a man and skeleton running on motionblurred background

The Daily Mail reporting on this, said, “Just 5 hours a week can boost survival chances by a THIRD
•    Experts tracked 10,000 men with prostate cancer in the US for 10 years
•    Moderate activities like cycling made patients 34 per cent less likely to die
•    Regular walking can help ward off cancer but has no effect after diagnosis
•    Suggests treatment which includes exercise is key to beating the disease”

Previous research has linked exercise to a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. Studies have also revealed that African-American men have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer and of dying from the disease compared with Caucasians. It is not clear if exercise as a function of race plays any role in these disparities. Continue reading

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Moscow Scientists Find Molecules Most Capable of Fighting Prostate Cancer

I’m a guy and I worry about prostate cancer. Here are some reasons why:
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2016 are:
•    About 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer
•    About 26,120 deaths from prostate cancer
•    About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer.

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So, I was very interested in the following report from Moscow:
Scientists from MIPT (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology), MSU (Moscow State University), and National University of Science and Technology “MISIS” provided an overview of the most promising compounds which can be used as medications for prostate cancer. The article was published in the Journal of Drug Targeting. Continue reading

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Cancer Diagnosis Can Take Toll on Mental Health

The most common mental disorders affecting cancer patients were anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders, according to the study. Adjustment disorders occur when a person cannot cope with a life crisis, and are unable to function on a daily basis or maintain relationships with those around them, Mehnert said.

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One out of three people diagnosed with cancer also wind up struggling with a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression, a new study from Germany reports.

Many people seem to cope with the natural stress of a cancer diagnosis, but for about 32 percent of cancer patients, the diagnosis may prompt a full-blown psychological disorder, said study lead author Anja Mehnert, a professor of psychosocial oncology at the University of Leipzig in Germany.

That’s much higher than the 20 percent mental disorder rate of the general population, she said. It’s important to note that although the study strongly links cancer and a mental health disorders, it wasn’t designed to prove that having cancer directly caused any mental health disorders.

“[Our] findings reinforce that, as doctors, we need to be very aware of signs and symptoms of mental and emotional distress,” Mehnert said. “We must encourage patients to seek…

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Fighting Prostate Cancer with A Tomato-rich Diet

Tomatoes and its products – such as tomato juice and baked beans – were shown to be most beneficial, with an 18 per cent reduction in risk found in men eating over 10 portions a week. This is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage.

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Men who eat over 10 portions a week of tomatoes have an 18 per cent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, new research suggests.

With 35,000 new cases every year in the UK, and around 10,000 deaths, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide.

Rates are higher in developed countries, which some experts believe is linked to a Westernised diet and lifestyle.

To assess if following dietary and lifestyle recommendations reduces risk of prostate cancer, researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford looked at the diets and lifestyle of 1,806 men aged between 50 and 69 with prostate cancer and compared with 12,005 cancer-free men.

The NIHR-funded study, published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, is the first study of its kind to develop a prostate cancer ‘dietary index’ which consists of dietary components – selenium, calcium and foods rich in…

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What About Those AXIRON Commercials?

Am I the only person who thinks these AXIRON commercials are more than a little frightening? In case you haven’t seen one, AXIRON is one of the ‘low T’ drugs, the euphemism for low testosterone. To judge by the number of these ads I see on TV, the majority of men in this country seem to suffer from it. But, low testosterone is not the issue here. It’s this power house of a drug to address it.

These AXIRON commercials recite a litany of warnings to the user, his wife/girlfriend and also any children within reach. How strong is this stuff?

Before I go further here is one of the commercials and you can try to keep up with the warnings for yourself.

Short of taking shorthand, I doubt you were able to get them all. But, if you weren’t able to keep up, here is the 411 direct from the AXIRON page.

“Important Safety Information for AXIRON (testosterone) topical solution
What is the most important information I should know about AXIRON?
AXIRON can transfer from your body to others. This can happen if other people come into contact with the area where the AXIRON was applied. Signs of puberty that are not expected (for example, pubic hair) have happened in young children who were accidentally exposed to testosterone through skin to skin contact with men using topical testosterone products like AXIRON. Women and children should avoid contact with the unwashed or unclothed area where AXIRON has been applied. If a woman or child makes contact with the application area, the contact area on the woman or child should be washed well with soap and water right away.

To lower the risk of transfer of AXIRON from your body to others, follow these important instructions:
Apply AXIRON only to your armpits.
Wash your hands right away with soap and water after applying AXIRON.
After the solution has dried, cover the application area with clothing. Keep area covered until you have washed the application area well or have showered.
If you expect another person to have direct skin-to-skin contact with your armpits, first wash the application area well with soap and water.

Stop using AXIRON and call your healthcare provider right away if you see any signs and symptoms in a child or a woman that may have occurred through accidental exposure to AXIRON. Signs and symptoms in children may include enlarged penis or clitoris; early development of pubic hair; increased erections or sex drive; aggressive behavior. Signs and symptoms in women may include changes in body hair and a large increase in acne.
Who should not use AXIRON?
Do not use AXIRON if you:
have or might have prostate cancer
have breast cancer
are pregnant or may become pregnant or are breast-feeding. AXIRON may harm your unborn or breast-feeding baby.
Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should avoid contact with the area of skin where AXIRON has been applied.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before using AXIRON?
Before you use AXIRON, tell your healthcare provider if you have:
breast cancer
or might have prostate cancer
urinary problems due to an enlarged prostate
heart problems
kidney or liver problems
problems breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea)
any other medical conditions
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Using AXIRON with other medicines can affect each other. Especially, tell your healthcare provider if you take:
insulin
medicines that decrease blood clotting
corticosteroids
What are the possible side effects of AXIRON?
AXIRON can cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:
If you already have enlargement of your prostate gland, your signs and symptoms can get worse while using AXIRON. This can include: increased urination at night, trouble starting your urine stream, having to pass urine many times during the day, having an urge that you have to go to the bathroom right away, having a urine accident, being unable to pass urine or weak urine flow.
Possible increased risk of prostate cancer. Your healthcare provider should check for prostate cancer or any other prostate problems before you start and while you use AXIRON.
In large doses AXIRON may lower your sperm count.
Swelling of your ankles, feet, or body.
Enlarged or painful breasts.
Problems breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea).
Blood clots in the legs. This can include pain, swelling or redness of your legs.

The most common adverse events include: skin redness or irritation where AXIRON is applied, increased red blood cell count, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, and increase in blood level of Prostate Specific Antigen (a test used to screen for prostate cancer). Other side effects include more erections than are normal for you or erections that last a long time.
AXIRON is flammable until dry. Let AXIRON dry before smoking or going near an open flame.
Axiron is available by prescription only
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 
1-800-FDA-1088.
For more information, please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning regarding the risk of transfer to others, and Medication Guide.

There did you get all that? As macabre as these warning are, I must confess the most bizarre was the warning that AXIRON is FLAMMABLE(!) Don’t smoke or go near open flame!!?? My God! People pay for this stuff?

As a lifetime game player and long time gambler, speculator and investor, I always try to balance risk and reward before entering into a situation with risk. I think the AXIRON situation is the more incredibly scewed risk/reward ratio I have ever seen.

I wouldn’t touch this stuff with a ten foot pole, but if you haven’t been put off by the warnings, check it out.

I invite any readers who may be AXIRON users to share their experience with the blog.

Tony

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New Method for Prostate Cancer Detection Can Save Millions of Men Painful Examination

The use of the new method, which has been patented by TU/e, can avoid the need for biopsies to be taken from millions of men around the world. The procedure will no longer be necessary for a large part of the 70% of men from whom biopsies are currently taken unnecessarily.

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A prostate image generated with the new technique. The red area indicates the tumor.

Each year prostate tissue samples are taken from over a million men – in most cases using 12 large biopsy needles – to check whether they have prostate cancer. This procedure, which was recently described by an American urology professor as ‘barbaric’1, shows that 70% of the subjects do not have cancer. A patient-friendly examination, which drastically reduces the need for biopsies has been developed at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), together with AMC Amsterdam.

Hundreds of thousands of men die each year from prostate cancer. The standard procedure used worldwide for prostate cancer examinations starts with measurement of the PSA (prostate specific antigen) value in the blood. If this is high, physicians will usually remove samples of prostate tissue through the anus at six to sixteen points for pathological examination. However, 70% of the subjects…

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Does Aspirin Prevent Cancer? – American Cancer Society

I have been hearing for years how taking aspirin daily would prevent this or that type of cancer. I admit to confusion on the issue. There always seemed to be new qualifiers to the statement. So, I was thrilled to see an interview with Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D., American Cancer Society (ACS) Researcher on the ACS website.

Aspirin
Q. Is there, at this point in time, definitive evidence that regular aspirin use may help prevent certain cancers?

A. Yes, there is now definitive evidence that long-term daily aspirin use, even at low doses, will lower risk of developing one type of cancer – colorectal cancer, probably by approximately 40%. However, this benefit is unlikely to “kick in” immediately. There appears to be a delay of several years between when aspirin use is started and when risk of developing colorectal cancer is reduced. Continue reading

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Low-grade Prostate Cancers May Not Become Aggressive With Time — Adds Support for “Watch and Wait” Approach

This study adds more evidence to the argument that patients who are diagnosed with low-grade prostate cancers can opt for an active surveillance, or “watch and wait” approach instead of getting treated right away.

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Prostate cancer aggressiveness may be established when the tumor is formed and not alter with time, according to a study published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Kathryn Penney, Sc.D.

Researchers found that after the introduction of widespread prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, the proportion of patients diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers dropped by more than six-fold in 22 years, but the proportion diagnosed with high Gleason grade cancers did not change substantially. This suggests that low-grade prostate cancers do not progress to higher grade over time.

Cancer stage refers to the extent or spread of the disease, and cancer grade, called Gleason grade for prostate cancer, refers to the aggressiveness of the disease.

“We were able to look at finely stratified time periods to capture pre-PSA, early-PSA, and late-PSA eras within one study. Over time, because of PSA screening, men have been more likely to…

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Fish Oil Supplements Linked to Prostate Cancer

Here is another good reason to add coconut oil to your diet. Unlike fish oil, coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid which the body can handle much better than the long chain fish oil ones.

You can read further about coconut oil in my blog:

Why should I try coconut oil?

Why coconut oil is so darn good for you.

What are the health benefits of coconut oil?

Use coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s.

Tony

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“Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 70%,” the Daily Mail reports.

The story, covered widely in the media, comes from a large and well designed study that also found that high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a 44% increase in the risk of slow growing prostate cancer.

Supporters of fish oil supplements have claimed that they can reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and dementia as well as improving cognitive function and mental health. But there is little conclusive evidence to justify these claims.

The findings match previous studies that have found a similar link between high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer.

It is worth bearing in mind that this study did not assess participants’ diet and use of supplements. Researchers measured blood levels of fatty acids and analysed the association with prostate…

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