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Behind the Headlines-03

Us TOO FLORENCE - BEHIND THE HEADLINES-3
BY BOB HORNEY - PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR - Us TOO CHAPTER LEADER
(Published November 13, 2013, The Siuslaw News

I haven't seen, nor do I expect to see, a headline reading: American Cancer Society (ACS) Discontinues Man to Man Prostate Cancer Education and Support Program. However, we now know the program has, in fact, been discontinued.
Recently, Us TOO initiated a discussion with ACS to see how it could be of assistance to prostate cancer patients and caregivers who previously participated in Man to Man support groups. Subsequent to their discussion, ACS provided a statement about their decision, part of which follows:
"The ACS has been forced to make some difficult decisions to better enable the organization to finish the fight against cancer. Achieving that vision will require the Society to narrow its focus and put all its energy and resources into strategies that help the most people, end the most suffering and save the most lives. Among the programs the Society will no longer be offering is the ACS' Man To Man Prostate Cancer Education and Support Program. While ACS M2M offered a wonderful service, today's cancer patients have many options for ongoing patient support groups, including more programs offered by health care facilities and online. As a result fewer prostate cancer survivors are utilizing ACS M2M as they have identified alternative programs."
It was 52 years ago when President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act (1971), signaling the beginning of the War on Cancer. We've made significant progress since then, but we're a long way from being done. Robert Frost said it best..."And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."
Looking at prostate cancer, which has had my undivided attention for 12 years, ACS complains that men are being over-treated for prostate cancers that would never endanger their lives (and being harmed by the treatment - incontinence and impotence). As Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of ACS puts it, "Prostate cancer screening has resulted in substantial over-diagnosis and in unnecessary treatment. It may have saved relatively few lives."
Really? What about the screening results from the Goteborg (Sweden) Study (at year 14) showing a 44% reduced prostate cancer death rate? Or the National Cancer Institute (NCI) SEER database which shows a 75% decrease in metastatic disease at diagnosis during the PSA era and a 40% decrease in the age-adjusted prostate cancer death rate. Here's what Dr. Brawley says about that: "There has been a 40 percent decline in US prostate cancer mortality since 1993. The reasons are not known." Dr. Brawley may not know the reasons, but the NCI attributes 45-70 percent of that decrease to the PSA test.
Looking at those screening statistics and seeing Dr. Brawley's statements, is it any wonder men are looking elsewhere for support? ACS doesn't have a message of hope, but rather a message of fear - fear of being unnecessarily diagnosed, unnecessarily treated, unnecessarily impotent and/or incontinent. ACS doesn't mention being deceased - unnecessarily.
The Us TOO Florence message is that early detection DOES save lives and without the incredible "harms" of which ACS warns us. Whereas ACS overly concerns men with the harms of treatment, we embrace the possibility of life-saving treatment while maintaining a proper respect for the possible, mostly resolvable, side-effects of incontinence and impotence.
We support detecting prostate cancer early when we have multiple options for life-saving treatment or even active surveillance (non-treatment). Waiting until the diagnosis is metastatic eliminates those options and causes far greater harms.
Us TOO groups, along with Us TOO Florence, stand ready to show former M2M participants, their spouses and loved ones what real support is like!

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