key to prostate cancer

The Key to Prostate Cancer: No More Unnecessary Biopsies, Radical Treatment or Loss of Sexual Potency

For more than 40 years I have been sharing my expertise about men’s health. As professions go, it’s a pretty good one. Everything I learn, I share with others through popular books like Surviving Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome, Stress Relief for Men, and my most recent book, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound. (You can still get your free copy of the first chapter here.)

I also try and listen to the advice I give others. Whenever I see a doctor I have four rules that I follow:

  1. I’m in charge of my own health. The doctor works for me. The doc can offer advice, but I decide what’s best for me.
  2. Doctors are not gods of medicine who know all the answers. They are fallible humans, usually stressed out and overworked, and prone to mistakes. Be vigilant.
  3. The days of generalists, who knew you and your family and treated whatever was wrong, have long passed. Be aware.
  4. Specialists recommend a treatment approach based on their specialty. Before agreeing to any treatment remember this adage: If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I kept these rules in mind when I had my first “prostate symptoms” when was in my 30s. I was having burning when I urinated and my GP referred me to a urologist. I was diagnosed with prostatitis and prescribed a mediation to treat the suspected prostate infection. One it didn’t work I was prescribed another and another and ended up on three different medications. When nothing worked after two years my specialist suggested “a procedure,” which turned out to be surgery to remove “some tissue from my prostate gland.”

I declined and sought out a second opinion. Luckily, I found an unusual specialist. He was honest from the first session. “I’m going to ask you some questions that might make you uncomfortable. I could make a lot more money doing surgery but wouldn’t help people as much as asking them some questions. Oh, and one more thing. I don’t take insurance. You pay upfront for each session.”

I trusted him, but his questions did, indeed, make me uncomfortable. “How are things with your sex life?” he wanted to know. “Not so good,” I replied. Which opened up a whole lot of other questions about my life and suggestions that my wife and I see a therapist. He also offered the following prescription. “Stop all the medications you’re taking. They aren’t working. I want you to drink 2 gallons of water a day. I want to flush out your system.”

I think I found the only urologist in the world that actually talks to you about your life, takes you offmedications, and prescribes lots and lots of water. I was skeptical, I’ll admit. But in a period of a couple of months of water therapy combined with marriage counseling my prostate symptoms had gone away. No medications. No surgery. Unfortunately, this unusual doc retired after 40 years in practice.

As I got older I followed my new doctor’s advice to have regular PSAs done in addition to the digital rectal exam. Just routine, until my PSA became elevated a bit and the doctor recommended a needle biopsy to see if there might be signs of prostate cancer. From then on things went from bad to worse. I wrote about my experiences in two articles, “Is the Test Worse Than the Disease? Why PSA Testing May Be Harmful to Your Health,” and “The Health $care Industry and the Prostate: Don’t Let Big Bucks Trump Your Quality of Life.”

I recently heard from Mark Scholtz, M.D. who read my articles and told me about his work helping men and their families make good decisions when confronted with the threat of prostate cancer. Dr. Scholz is the medical director of Prostate Oncology Specialists, Inc. and executive director of the Prostate Cancer Research Institute. He is the author of The Key to Prostate Cancer and co-author with Ralph H. Blum of Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers: No More Unnecessary Biopsies, Radical Treatment or Loss of Sexual Potency.

In his first book Invasion, Dr. Scholtz notes that “Every year almost a quarter of a million confused and frightened American men are tossed into a prostate cancer cauldron stirred by salespeople representing a multibillion-dollar industry. In this flourishing business, the radical prostatectomy is still the most widely recommended treatment option. Yet a recent and definitive study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that out of the fifty thousand prostate operations performed annually, more than forty thousand are unjustified. But this is no surprise given that 99 percent of all doctors treating this disease are surgeons or radiation therapists. The appalling fact is that men are still being rushed into a major operation that rarely prolongs life and more than half the time leaves them impotent.”

He says, “The goal of Invasion was to calm people down by introducing various proven and developing nonsurgical alternatives and to demystify prostate cancer, enabling patients to think more clearly and make better decisions.” Dr. Scholtz’s co-author, Ralph Blum, was a patient he was treating. Its pretty usual to have a respected doctor and his patient working together to co-author a book. Dr. Scholtz reminds me of the retired urologist I first worked with who wanted to talk to me as a person and didn’t rush towards invasive tests or surgery.

In his excellent article, “The 15 Stages of Prostate Cancer,” which I highly recommend for anyone who has a prostate gland and any woman who loves a man with the gland, he says that most doctors who treat prostate problems have a major conflict of interest. “They are paid to carry out only one type of therapy, surgery or radiation.”

When we hear the word “cancer” most of us freak out and think “death sentence,” but most prostate cancers grow slowly and we can take our time learning what to do. There aren’t a lot of doctors out there with the depth, breadth, compassion, and wisdom of Dr. Mark Scholz. I’m glad he is still practicing and I hope he’s a long way from retirement.

Deepak Chopra, M.D. reminds us “Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on our thoughts.” Think positive, my friends, the truth will set you free.

This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.

Photo by Rhone on Unsplash

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