Aug 19, 2005 - 1:14 pm
First of all, thanks to all the good people in this discussion group who are sharing their experiences. Ive read postings on this group, but havent seen much relative to what is on my mind, beyond the obvious, of course, such as: what the heck should I do? Also, I regret this lengthy posting, but, hey, this stuff is important.
I would appreciate insight, opinions, experiences re all this, especially from those who have considered alternative medicine.
Im 55, in good health, and in Watchful Waiting. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March, after PSA went from 3.5 to 4.8 in two years. Biopsy showed two cancer areas of about 1mm each; Gleason grade was 6. Urologist/surgeon said the cancer appears to be non-aggressive, and there appears not to be any urgency to choosing my course. Nonetheless, he recommended RP and referred me to a radiologist. Radiologist said I would be an ideal candidate for seeds.
I adopted relatively strict diet: cutting down on fat, no-read-meat diet; increasing intake of soy products, green tea, Vitamin E, etc. In addition, an acupuncturist gave me a Chinese herbal formula for prostate problems. In June, PSA was 4.1.
I recently went to M.D. Anderson for a second opinion, after sending my biopsy results. Their analysis graded my Gleason at 7. They didnt do any tests, and they werent the least interested in my declining PSA. They recommended RP in the next couple of months, because of my age and my overall good health.
Coincidentally, as many of you know, there has been a lot of news coverage in recent weeks of a prostate-cancer/life-style study by the University of California, San Francisco, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
This comes from UCSF press release dated Aug. 11: The research team studied 93 men with biopsy-proven prostate cancer. After one year, the researchers found that PSA levels dropped for men in the group who made comprehensive lifestyle changes but increased in the comparison group. There was a direct correlation between the degree of lifestyle change and the changes in PSA. Also, they found that serum from the participants inhibited prostate tumor growth in vitro by 70 percent in the lifestyle-change group but only 9 percent in the comparison group. Again, there was a direct correlation between the degree of lifestyle change and the inhibition of prostate tumor growth.
Participants in the lifestyle-change group were placed on a vegan diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes supplemented with soy, vitamins and minerals. They participated in moderate aerobic exercise, yoga/meditation, and a weekly support group session. A registered dietitian was available for consultation, and a nurse case manager contacted the participants once a week for the first three months and weekly thereafter.
Peter Carroll, MD, chair of the Department of Urology, said: This study provides important new information for men with prostate cancer and all men who hope to prevent it. This is the first in a series of trials attempting to better identify the exact role of diet and lifestyle in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
Said Ornish, who is also founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute: Changes in diet and lifestyle that we found in earlier research could reverse the progression of coronary heart disease may also affect the progression of prostate cancer as well. These findings suggest that men with prostate cancer who undergo conventional treatments may also benefit from making comprehensive lifestyle changes.
I didnt discuss this study with the doctors at M.D. Anderson. But in the brief time my PSA numbers were part of the conversation, one of the them said that it is expecting too much of PSA to take comfort in its decline, absent, of course, some obvious intervention.
Reaction to the study varied:
Howard Parnes of the National Cancer Institute said there are "many caveats" involved in the study. "So many variables were changed in the experimental group that it is not possible to sort out which of the many lifestyle factors -- or combination thereof, was responsible for the observed effects," he said, adding that the lifestyle changes in the study were significant enough that it is unclear how many men would be able to adhere to them.
Durado Brooks of the American Cancer Society was quoted in the Associated Press and Washington Post as saying, "The take-home message is that an active lifestyle combined with a healthy diet definitely decreases the risk of many types of cancer, and in the case of early non-aggressive prostate cancer, it may slow disease progression.
It's hard to get too excited about these results because you took a population of men who, frankly, are likely to do well no matter what." However, he added, "[T]his definitely should open the door to more research"