Every year, more than 50,000 American men undergo a radical prostatectomy — complete removal of the prostate — after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. The surgery leaves half impotent and 20 percent incontinent. Shockingly, according to Dr. Mark Scholz, an oncologist who has treated prostate cancer exclusively for 15 years, most of the operations can be avoided.
“Four out of five operations to remove all or part of the prostate gland are unnecessary,” Scholz tells Newsmax.TV. Instead of rushing into surgery, men should take time to explore their options. Many could safely opt to have no treatment at all.
One out of six men will be diagnosed with the disease. “Our lifetime risk of having a prostate biopsy is one out of two, and our chances of dying from prostate cancer are about one in 50,” says Scholz, who is the co-author of “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers,” a book that explains the frightening diagnosis and why it is often overtreated.
There are three risk categories of prostate cancer, says Scholz: low risk (can be monitored with no risk); high risk (needs aggressive treatment with surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy); and intermediate risk (the gray zone where some men might benefit from surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, or hormone therapy).
Prostate cancer differs from other cancers in four ways:
- It can be detected early because of PSA testing.
- It spreads slowly and rarely metastasizes.
- It’s sensitive to hormones.
- Its progress can be monitored with PSA testing.
Alternate ways to treat prostate cancer include radioactive pellets inserted into the prostate. Scholz says they control the cancer as well as surgery, but cause half the sexual dysfunction and don’t cause incontinence.
He says that about a third of men diagnosed with prostate cancer probably don’t need any treatment, but the system is weighted toward treating everyone. And patients who are faced with the frightening diagnosis of cancer expect to be treated.
What can a man do to reduce his chances of developing prostate cancer? “Cut down on rich foods,” Scholz says. “In China where they can’t afford our rich American diet, the incidence of prostate cancer is 17 times lower than here in the United States.”