The Sky stage of prostate cancer means a PSA less than 10, a Gleason under 7, and no large tumor masses detected on digital rectal or on MRI. But we call Sky cancer. Interestingly, is it actually a cancer?
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At the first ever Active Surveillance Convention, a conference I attended back in 2007, many experts openly bemoaned that the word “CANCER” profoundly overstates the significance of Gleason 6 type of prostate cancer. The pathologists at the conference, however, shot down the idea of a name change saying, “Under the microscope it looks like a cancer, so it is cancer.” No one at the conference had a rebuttal so the proposal for a name change was dropped.
"This video is intended for the wives, husbands, partners and loved ones of men who may be at risk of having prostate cancer or who have been diagnosed with the cancer. Our aim is to help you help him navigate through what can be a complicated, confusing and anxiety ridden time.
Why Screen for Prostate Cancer?
Screening finds earlier stage cancers, allows for simpler treatments with fewer side effects, and saves lives. For example, in 1985, prior to PSA screening, the prostate cancer five-year survival rate was 69% compared to 99% in 2006. It’s unclear whether this dramatic survival increase is entirely due to PSA screening. Other factors, such as improved therapy have also contributed.
Survival. It’s a huge word. Yet science uses it often, and without pause. It is a statistic. But for the cancer patient, the word survival is more than a statistic. It is one of the most personal statements about him and his cancer journey. It deserves more than common reference, and more understanding of its true definition. For the newly diagnosed prostate cancer patient, survival is one of the first thoughts. But we are still learning how to explain more clearly that every prostate cancer is different, and the majority do not even shorten survival.
There is no easy way to receive the news that you have cancer, but it is important to realize that prostate cancer is typically not a death sentence. In fact the vast majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have the low-risk form of the disease, and will live a normal life span. Even those men diagnosed with the more aggressive kind of prostate cancer have effective treatment options available to them today.
There is only one other form of abuse that approaches medical hexing for its pernicious influence, and that is self-hexing. When you are diagnosed with any type of cancer it’s natural to ask, “Why did this happen to me?” Or “Could I have prevented it?” Or most pernicious, “Did I do something to bring this on myself?”