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.
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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.
After interviewing thousands of newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patients, I have found that the first impressions of most patients about prostate cancer are almost always wrong. Why? There are several reasons.