Conventional treatments for prostate cancer, such as surgery to remove the prostate gland or radiotherapy, are dangerous. The good news, though, is that they may not be necessary for most men diagnosed with a low-grade of the disease.

Prostate cancer surgery can result in serious problems. These include incontinence and impotence. Radiation treatment is not effective and can lead to major problems in your bladder and colon. Unfortunately, few medical professionals in this country will admit there's a better way. But the British are making headway.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in England found something I've been telling you for years. They discovered that men whose cancer is detected early by a PSA screening are not likely to die from the disease. They are far more likely to die from something completely unrelated.

The study followed men between the ages of 55 and 59 with low-grade cancer. It showed that men in this age group have only a one in 100 chance of dying from the disease within 15 years. This was true even when they didn't receive any treatment at all. Treatments, such as surgery and radiation, are not likely to prolong survival in low-grade cases. Yet your urologist will jump to relieve you of your gland (and possibly your sex life) if cancer is present, no matter the grade.

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The PSA test measures levels of prostate-specific antigen. Your prostate gland produces this protein. Doctors believed for years that it provided an earlier detection. However, now we know that most elevated PSA levels are due to benign enlargement of the prostate.

The British researchers are testing a new technique for prostate cancer called Active Surveillance. This technique will help ensure that doctors give treatment only to men who will benefit. Men who have high-grade, advanced, prostate cancer, for instance, would be more likely to benefit from treatments.

As you can see, not all cancers are the same. All men will get prostate cancer. Should we go chopping and slicing on small chances that these cancers will be lethal? I think not. At last we're seeing some enlightenment in the medical industry. Too bad it's coming from Europe and hasn't had an effect in the U.S. yet. I predict it will be years before the sickness industry in this country looks itself in the mirror.

The chances you'll die from prostate cancer are slim, especially if you have the more common slow-growing cancer. If you're in this group, don't submit to surgery or radiation. There are plenty of alternatives that work well and don't have any negative side effects. You can find these on my website at .

British Journal of Cancer May 22, 2006;94(10):1361-8; Yahoo News May 25, 2006.

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