Yes, Casey, it seems that the pendulum is swinging away from being overly aggressive to treating prostate cancer to treating the prostate cancer in "smarter" ways.
PCA3 testing was mentioned repeatedly as being a newer way in which to gauge just how deadly and how fast the cancer is growing. None of the doctors thought that PSA testing should not be done, but all mentioned that a big hurdle in whether to treat or wait to treat the disease would be to develop more accurate tests which could determine just how quickly the disease is developing in a person. They were of the mindset that treating a disease that is growing so slowly that it would never end up killing a person is counterproductive when you take into account the negative side effects of the treatments.
Again, this conference was put together by Dr. Scholz who is a big advocate for Active Surveillance so take that into account as you see fit.
My history in trying to decide if I should be aggressive or conservative with the disease is as follows:
January 2009--After having a biopsy, I discovered I had prostate cancer. (My father had prostate cancer, but he lived to be 82 and died of a heart attack.) My doctor suggested that I have surgery or radiation. My best friend had a prosectomy at the the age of 47 and everything turned out fine except for the need to take Viagra. He was very much in favor of me having surgery.
Doctor One--Urologist--Cedars Sinai--Said I should have a prosectomy as soon as he returned from his two week vacation. (That actually gave me some time to think about
things and begin my research.)
Doctor Two--Radiation Doctor--Beverly Hills--Wanted me to start IMRT within a month. He said that there was no way to determine if I had a slow or fast growing cancer. Said I would have few side effects.
Doctor Three--Radiation Doctor/CyberBlade--San Diego--Wanted me to begin treatments within a month. He said I was an excellent candidate.
Doctor Four--Radiation Doctor (TomoTherapy)--Long Beach--Said I was a great candidate and wanted to start on me as soon as my insurance cleared.
(I had decided that radiation was the way I was going to go so I looked at the different options.)
Doctor Five--Radiation Doctor (Proton at Loma Linda)--They wanted to put me into the new hypofractionated program. I was all set to start in May and was told delays of the treatment was not wise. (It was kind of funny because when I first sought out Loma Linda they said that there would be a year wait before I could begin the program. When my insurance cleared, I was bumped to the top of the list.)
Doing all this research I was amazed at the number of doctors who specialized in prostate cancer and the many treatment options available. There were ads on the radio and in the newspapers. I began to adopt the opinion that there was a lot of money to be made in this field.
Two weeks before I was scheduled to start my first radiation treatment, I decided to look at one more option--Active Surveillance. Heck, I felt fine. I wasn't overweight. I exercised regularly and I was a vegetarian. Why not?
Doctor Six--Oncologist--Marnia del Rey. Said I was a good candidate for AS after doing a color doppler test, but was troubled by some shadows on the ultrasound. He sent me to another doctor (his friend) for a second opinion on the color doppler and a biopsy if needed. (Maybe this was a way of "padding the bill" and giving his friend a cut? I was getting confused again...)
Doctor Seven--Oncologist--Ventura. Did another color doppler test. Everything was fine. Recommended for AS.
My first PSA test number after this journey began dropped a little. My next PSA test will be in November.
Take this for what it's worth: I have excellent health insurance. Only one doctor told me that my odds of dying from prostate cancer were very, very small. (Also, I have never met anyone who has died from prostate cancer. I don't doubt that it happens. I know it happens. I'm just not sure how frequently it happens.)
Post Edited (Franchot) : 9/20/2009 10:22:36 PM (GMT-6)