What is prostate cancer? First of all, it is a devastating disease which claims the life of many men, is difficult to treat and often impossible to stop. And on the other hand, prostate cancer is a condition which doesn’t cause symptoms, let alone kill patients and probably shouldn’t be called cancer at all. Confused? I hope you are. It is a good starting point for understanding prostate cancer.
First of all, why am I doing this? I am a urologist and I’ve been treating prostate cancer patients for over a decade. What sticks out among many lessons is that prostate cancer patients need to have a far more profound and in-depth understanding of the nature of their disease than other cancer patients. Why? We’ll get to that.
This understanding, however, is regularly sabotaged by media coverage of the disease which invariably focuses on new and usually fancy treatments rather than the bits of information which really matter to patients. So every time prostate cancer is on the news, I have to use a lot of extra time and effort with my patients to put things into perspective again. So this blog is my (probably forlorn) effort to convey the messages I think are important . I work at a non-academic central hospital where I’m exposed to the whole spectre of the disease. I cannot select the patients I want to see. I have to deal with all of them and with every aspect of the disease. I follow them from their first biopsy and in some instances to their death. It is both a privilege and a challenge.
So what makes prostate cancer special?