Monday, October 19, 2009

Would you show up to support prostate cancer?

Jeff Jarvis talks about what it is like to have prostate cancer (via Althouse):

You may not want to read this post. It defines TMI. But in the interest of continuing to chronicle the saga of my prostate cancer – for the benefit, I hope, of those who follow – the time has come to write about my penis. Specifically, what it doesn’t do.

Incontinence and impotence are two frightening words for a grown man but they are the side-effects of removing the prostate and its cancer with it. Worth the price, or at least that’s the calculation one makes beforehand: Cancer or erections? Cancer or dry underwear? Cancer loses.

Honestly, I don't think it's too much information (TMI). I think men don't talk about these health issues and they get overlooked. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.

I recently was in a local spa and they were raving about doing services for breast cancer awareness week that were donated to that cause. I applauded them but asked if they would be doing anything for prostate cancer. "Sure!" said the owner. Just let us know when." The problem is that no one takes up much of a cause for prostate cancer but I think it is partly because men wouldn't show up. Women all over had organized the spa event and made it a success. I realize that men would need something more than a spa event.

What would it take to get you to show up and help support the cause?



Blogger Larry J said...

A lot of women have pushed breast cancer as if it's the only kind of health issue anyone faces. Now, it's great that they've raised all of that money for breast cancer research, but what about lung cancer? Or uterine cancer? Or cervical cancer? Or pancreatic cancer? Or for that matter, what about heart disease which is still the leading cause of death in men and women?

I once heard some feminist say she wasn't concerned about prostate cancer because "I don't have a prostate." What would someone like her say if men expressed similar sentiments about cancers that strike only women*?

I wonder if that feminist has any men in her life such as a brother, a father, etc. I have a lot of women in my life: wife, mother, sister, sisters-in-law, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and more neices than I can keep track of. Just because I'm not female, it doesn't mean I don't care about women.

*I've read that about 1000-2000 American men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and about 500 die from it. Male breast cancer is rare but it happens.

9:33 AM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger ProstateCancer said...

Here's a quick and easy way to support prostate cancer...sign the Petition To Make Prostate Cancer a National Priority at

10:45 AM, October 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would it take to get you to show up and help support the cause?

I recommend hookers and alcohol.

11:34 AM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

narcissistic sociopaths.

hair and nails.

anything for a spa event and to see and be seen.

this isn`t about health, it`s about pre-adolescent self-indulgence.

men`s pre-adolescent self-indulgence is about hookers and alcohol.

anethsitization and suckling.


and that`s the difference between men and women.

12:32 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...

Professor Hale,

"I recommend hookers and alcohol."

So a benefit for prostate cancer should be held at a spa of a different sort, I guess.

12:39 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Flash Gordon said...

The key is not to get men to show up for a benefit for prostate cancer. They aren't going to do it. Nothing happens until women get excited about it. You want to get awareness for prostate cancer, you have to get women on board. But since they don't get it, you have to get them interested out of compassion for men. Ha! Good luck with that one.

It's the same with suicide. If the male and female suicide rates were reversed it would be a national crisis. But if men off themselves at twice the rate of women, well that just shows how stupid men are. No big deal.

12:44 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Flash, the same thing applies to rape. I have read that the majority of rapes in this country are committes against men in prison. But rape is seen as a woman's issue because women are better at that sort of thing than we are.

I think part of the low visibility for prostate cancer is just our denial as men. Who wants to think about it? Not me. And the prostate exams are nothing fun either.


12:54 PM, October 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have prostate problems. But they are kept under control with something available off the internet, that work works better than any prescription I have ever used. That would be beta-sitosterol. There are two suppliers out there who most have heard of. At any rate, the stuff works well.

TMink: My GP is female for that very reason (prostate exams). If I have to have the annual poke and prod, and other things in that major area - front and rear, I may as well ummmm....enjoy it. It is embarrassing, even slightly belittling for doctor and patient if both are male. My GP and I have known each other a long time, and there is no problem. She, a professional doctor. Me, a professional patient.

1:13 PM, October 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, what would make me show up?

Free exams by th Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?

OK, OK. But at least I try to have a good time.

1:20 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Doom said...

Wow, right to the question, is it? I so despise the idea of medical anything that it would take a close friend dying of it, or my brother if he was close. And then only maybe, I might chicken out. If I don't have it, as my mind thinks, I don't want to think about it. If I have it, to my current mind, cancer WOULD win. I am simply not interested in being chemically or surgically neutered and I am not sure adding 2-6 years of pain, manly dysfunction, and whatever else goes with it sounds like a bargain to me. So, it would be very difficult.

I only add this so that you might have one more male perspective. And, from speaking with other men, a sort of common one. I think as a man, among men, illness is just one of OUR emotional things. As an ill man, if in a different manner, I know this all too well.

2:16 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

The last time I went to the doctor he stuck his finger up my ass.

I said, "Woah! Doc, this isn't a social call. Talk to me, buy me dinner, tease me a little."

This is why I don't go to doctors.

Okay, that was a joke. But the salient point is that more men die from testicular cancer than women die from breast cancer. There are several other diseases, prostrate cancer among them, that kill more people every year than breast cancer.

So why the overemphasis on treating breast cancer? Well, one reason is that men are expendible and women are not. Another is that women have breasts and men do not.

Personally, from my perspective, everyone dies. If the disease doesn't kill you, the cure will.

Chaucer wrote on this exact subject over six hundred years ago, before the advent of modern medicine. Paraphasing the Physician's Tale, he said, Physicians make their diagnoses based on the movements of the starts and write their prescriptions based on which of their friends in the pharmaceutical business need money the most.

I fail to see how anything has changed.

2:30 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have the event at a Harley dealer.


3:29 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

I like Rob's idea.

It is so much easier to support breast cancer awareness because, well, breasts are involved.

They make most things easier.


4:01 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

"What would it take to get you to show up and help support the cause?"

$15,000 and 2010 Yankees season tickets.

Okay, let's get serious. Is this a "Cause," or an ailment that's almost always treatable and curable with existing therapies?

I see it as the latter.

Is it unfortunate that sometimes removal of the prostate is required? Yes. But isn't it at least as unfortunate that the federal government basically controls scientific research through its grant-making institutions? Do you want to perpetuate and further solidify that state of affairs? Because that's the ultimate effect of "demonstrations" in support of any "research Cause."

Time to back away, I think.

6:34 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger dr kill said...

To answer your question- when prostates look like tits.

7:36 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

As Flash Gordon mentioned, a key element is to get the women involved. Any woman who is in a really satisfying sexual relationship can expect to see that change drastically if prostate surgery is required. Of course, it changes even more drastically if the man involved dies. These women have a vested interest in the sexual health of their men, so they will push them to be checked for prostate cancer.

As mentioned, the rectal exam is no picnic, but it is brief and usually not too painful. The other check that is used is the PSA test, a blood test, that involves nothing more than having some blood drawn from your arm for analysis every so often. Every man over 50 should be doing both of these at least every 6 months.

8:09 PM, October 19, 2009  
Blogger Locomotive Breath said...

I'll bet most of those women who show up at the breast cancer events have the free time to do so because some man is at work supporting them. On average he'll die years before she does.

8:10 AM, October 20, 2009  
Blogger Doom said...

Hmm, I keep seeing how booze and strippers would work for some guys. I must have become a prude. One reminds me of all the new diseases out there, the other reminds me of how to become foolish enough to obtain those diseases, quickly. Then again, I don't watch football either. I am definitely, and by choice, out of the loop. Uhrm, best not to call me a sissy though, I am not that out of the loop. I do have some male traits, and they are better than average.

Yeah, disease goes right back to why I wouldn't go in for a fundraiser or such. Whether you call it cancer, t.b., or AIDs, sickness is weakness. It is best to be avoided and not discussed.

10:36 AM, October 20, 2009  
Blogger JohnAnnArbor said...

I fail to see how anything has changed.

Speak for yourself. I'd be blind in at least one eye and probably both without modern medicine. A friend of mine would have been dead of cancer if she'd gotten her diagnosis in the 1970s instead of the 1990s; instead, she's fully cured.

4:32 PM, October 20, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would never support prostate cancer, and I say that as a man with a prostate.

Now, prostate cancer's eradication...that's another matter.

4:58 PM, October 20, 2009  
Blogger Hubcap said...

What would make me show up? Beer.

7:05 PM, October 20, 2009  
Blogger Roy said...

I would show up unreservedly for the cause.
Especially as I have refused completely to support breast cancer.

3:42 PM, October 22, 2009  
Blogger ErikZ said...

Cancer is cancer.

So if it takes breast cancer to get people to join together and fight it, so be it. Anything learned by fighting breast cancer can be applied to many other types of cancer.

Then finally, there's this:

5:30 PM, October 24, 2009  
Blogger Silicon Valley Hiker said...

There is growing awareness of Prostate Cancer. Furthermore, both men AND women are showing up for Prostate Cancer events involving beer & muscle, specifically the "Fight Gone Bad" charity event described here ...

An explanation of "Fight Gone Bad" can be found in this video ...

FWIW, the psychology of Crossfit and its "Army of Davids" open-source approach to overall fitness is worth exploring further.

5:38 PM, October 24, 2009  
Blogger Wayne Moore said...

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 7 years ago at age 59, so I have experience and strong opinions on this topic. I have a mother, wife, 2 daughters, and 3 granddaughters, so I have an interest in breast cancer. (I also have a father, a son, 3 grandsons and 4 brothers.) My wife is a cancer survivor.

Stated simply, prostate cancer does not need or justify the same research effort as breast cancer. The reasons are (1) the average age of onset is much higher for prostate cancer and (2) the US survival rates for prostate cancer are 5 years 99.3% and 10 years 90% while breast cancer survival rates are 5 years 90% and 10 years 65%. Breast cancer kills much more often than prostate cancer and it kills much younger people on average.

As for incidence in the US, approximately 180k new cases of each are diagnosed each year excluding about 60k cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

There are several major centers of excellence in prostate cancer treatment in the US. I've read some of what Jeff Jarvis has written, but do not know where he was treated, his pre-treatment PSA, or the Gleason scale grade(aggressiveness) of his prostate cancer. When I was diagnosed with my moderately aggressive (Gleason 4+3 =7) prostate cancer, I took 3 months to thoroughly study the subject and search out the centers of excellence for various treatments. I selected a center that was out of network for my insurance, but the company United Healthcare) agreed to treat it as in network when I discussed it with them. Seven years later I have had no incontinence, my PSA is not detectable, and my wife and I still have an active sex life.

Too many men immediately decide on immediate surgical prostate removal by a local urologist who has poor skills thus damaging nerves when more skilled surgeons would not.

I selected a combination of high does external beam radiation and radioactive seed transplant (brachytherapy) rather than surgery at a center several hundred miles from my home. My urologist, a local surgeon, has seen such remarkable results from his patients who select this path that he now refuses to do surgical removal of the prostate unless the patient absolutely insists on it after getting all of the facts on relative success and side effects.

I recently participated in and contributed to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer event in our area. Breast cancer deserves all of the attention it gets. There is more work left to be done to cure breast than to cure prostate cancer.

11:10 PM, October 24, 2009  
Blogger Wayne Moore said...

I did not address Dr. Helen's question about what it would take to get me to show up for a prostate cancer event to support the cause. I have purchased and contributed prostate cancer books to urologists' offices because the issue is lack of education of those who are diagnosed, but I would not participate in a campaign unless it is focused on education rather than research. Prostate cancer and its successful treatment even in advanced stages are light years ahead of several other cancers including lymphomas/leukemia, lung cancer, cancer of the pancreas, breast cancer, or melanoma.

The major issues with prostate cancer are botched treatment caused by unskilled/uninformed surgeons and radiologists AND late detection resulting from either dislike for DRE's or failure to have routine physicals.

I've seen a 9 year old die of leukemia, my 26 year old brother die of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a 35 year old female friend die of breast cancer, a 51 year old MALE coworker die of breast cancer, a 41 year old friend die of lung cancer, my 43 year old primary care physician die of pancreatic cancer, and a 50 year old coworker die of melanoma. All of these were treated early and aggressively. All of these cancers need and should get more research money/attention than prostate cancer.

Cure of low-mortality rate diseases like prostate cancer which impact mostly seniors do not justify the same degree of research effort or public support as higher mortality rate diseases that affect younger populations. (I'm a 66 year old senior.)

None of this, of course, directly addresses why men are far less likely than women to get involved in campaigns like those for breast cancer research. That's just the way we are. I do know that most women feel a vested interest in diseases that affect primarily men just as certainly as I feel a strong vested interest in diseases that affect women. My mother, my wife, my daughters, and my granddaughters are more important to me than my own life is. My mother-in-law died of overian cancer, so I make sure my wife has her CA-125 tested every year.

Sure, there is a strain militant feminism that focuses on the female of the species, but they are a very small, if vocal, minority. Most women have equal concern for issues of male and female just as most men do.

12:35 AM, October 25, 2009  
Blogger VegasGuy said...

Breast cancer is an emotional issue for women, who are as fixated on breasts, albeit for different reasons, as men. That coupled with double victim status (women, cancer) has helped elevated it to a "cause" with its own supporting niche industry and automatic media and Hollywood sympathizers. All those conditions are never going to be satisfied for prostate cancer and its victims.

8:35 AM, October 25, 2009  

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