Dr. Jeff Says
Dr. Jeff Says
Anyone who reads a newspaper, watches television, goes online, or is a football fan knows October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The ubiquitous pink that has come to symbolize the disease—from dyed women’s tresses, to stylish ties donned by news anchors, to shoelaces on the cleats of NFL behemoths—is everywhere. By Columbus Day pink has seemingly managed to crowd out autumn’s dazzling hues.
But something else is missing from this palette. How about blue? Not Big Blue as in the NY Giants, but the blue standing for prostate cancer awareness. September, although virtually unrecognized, is Prostate Cancer Awareness month.
Advocacy groups like the Susan G. Komen Foundation have done a marvelous job promoting education and research to combat breast cancer. Their work—including the nationally recognized Race For The Cure—symbolizes a grassroots effort to save lives, and it has resulted in increased survival rates. They are to be commended.
The public education surrounding prostate cancer (PCa) isn’t, and has never been, commensurate. The statistical rates of diagnoses and death for PCa are very similar to those of breast cancer. One in eight American women will develop breast cancer; one in six American men will develop PCa (not the one in two as is sometimes reported in the media).
An odd, cultural quirk exists which causes some men’s advocacy groups to argue that prostate cancer is not a deadly disease, and that those who contract it will die with the disease, not from it. That claim is problematic. Complicating matters is the further debate over how the public should view prostate health. Some of these same advocacy groups claim that a highly accurate, simple and beneficial procedure, the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, should not be administered at all. These groups believe that the test leads to more invasive, and likely needless, procedures—procedures, they assert, that do more harm than good.
What’s going on here? Let’s start with a short history of testosterone (T).
Read more in Part V, The Doctor Is In, in Dr. Jeff's The Life of Men.