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Alternatives and options

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2005

First of all, thanks to all the good people in this discussion group who are sharing their experiences. I’ve read postings on this group, but haven’t 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.

I’m 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 didn’t do any tests, and they weren’t 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 didn’t 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"

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2005

I am a medical researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and feel that the research shows a good Complementary approach to cancer treatment. However, given all of the research to date, it does not appear to be an alternative treatment for cancer.
My husband also has prostate cancer and has had medical treatment including seeds and conformal radiation and has made lifestyle changes.

However, the best predictor of cancer outcome, given any treatment, is your initial PSA, Gleason and velosity of increase of PSA. You obviously have a slow growing cancer that is not aggressive. However, at some point in time the cancer will continue to grow with only watchful waiting and lifestyle changes. Your choices are to use your current approach and monitor the growth by watching your PSA, having DRE exams and biopsies as necessary OR having more invasive treatment that could most probably remove the cancer from your system before it spreads.

If you were 75, the watchful waiting approach would probably be your choice, however, given your age, the cancer will progress without medical treatment.
So, it comes down to how you feel about the treatments and the chance for the cancer to grow while you wait and use lifestyle alternatives vs having something either removed or burned out of your system, which at this point would probably be sucessfully removed.
Only you can decide which direction to go but there is no long term research of any kind to show that alternative medicines alone will stop the growth of any cancer even if it slows progression, whereas surgery or radiation do show such outcomes.

I hope this is helpful in some way for your decision making process. Keep us informed as you continue with either/or complementary or alternative treatments.

Posts: 232
Joined: May 2003

you have read my posts on diet and cancer in the past and what my husband takes since he had a psa of 60, did have radiation, refused all other treatment, lupron etc. He was told his psa would never go below 3 or maybe four, it is .4. I doubt anyone knows if your cancer will progress if you change your life style but it is a gamble. On the other hand by watching the psa and having biospies it may not be that major of gamble either. Keeping on a diet of mainly fruits, vegetables and a few grains is difficult for most people. We do eat fish, and a few eggs. Read Jane Plants book, she shouldn't be alive but a change of diet has kept her very healthy and free of cancer more then any Dr ever said would happen. Linda

rogermoore's picture
Posts: 265
Joined: Mar 2002


Sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I agree with Spouse's statement, that even with a life-style change the cancer is going to remain, although the growth may be slowed by the change in you living style.

Even though the cancer growth "appears" to be of a slow nature, if it were me I would not be waiting too long before starting a treatment option.

You have probably read my testament to the RP surgery, which I chose. There are similar results that have been attained by seed implant and other treatments. I would be moving forward with the decision-making process.


Posts: 88
Joined: Dec 2001


I am in you age range and was diagnosed four years ago...For what it's worth at your age watchful waiting is not an option...My question to you is what are you waiting for?...No matter how much you change your lifestyle you already have PC...Unless you do something pro-active it's not going to disappear...You have a few options, do your homework and make the decision you feel best about...I went with external beam radiation and seeds...From what I have researched a few good studies indicate 10 year results are about the same whether you choose surgery or radiation...Sorry if I sound frank but I am always concerned about those men who choose not to treat...Best to you

Posts: 19
Joined: Apr 2005

I can understand not wanting to go through RP. However, at your age watchful waiting does not seem to be a good alternative. You are only 55 and if your cancer grows slowly it will still most likely kill you when you are reasonably young. I am a survivor that had LRP and highly recommend that approach. At present my PSA is 0.0 after six months. I do have side effects. I had nerve sparing surgery and I am still impotent. This is fairly normal after only 6 months and I still hope to regain that function in another 6 months or so. Time will tell. Also, the incontinence varies from patient to patient. After 6 months I am almost dry. Completely dry at night and only leak when I exert. I have stress incontinence and it is easily managed with pads. I lead a normal life and my condition improves every week. So I hope to be completely dry someday. I am free from cancer after 6 months and I can put up with the side effects. I was 63 at the time of my surgery. Your age is in your favor in terms of side effects and recovery. I urge you to consider LRP as the surgery is very easy. Please look at the following website from my surgeon. He is probably the most experienced at the LRP in the United States. His site is www.krongrad-urology.com Be sure to read about the procedure and some of the patients personal stories. They are very helpful. God bless you and good luck with your decision.

Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2005

have you heard about glyconutrition?


Posts: 13
Joined: Jul 2005

Yes! Ben Carson toke it and I've been investigating it. Ben endorsed it. Seems like a good thing.
I will also be commenting to "Finbar" and "Spouse" etc, I think they will interested.
Talk to you tomorrow. Twinbrook2

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2005

Thanks, all, for you thoughtful responses. Spouse provides a good summary of my situation. I note a consistent POV among at least half the other respondents that WW does not make a lot of sense. In fact, it might be more accurate to say I'm in a state of scared study or concerned contemplation.

Still, I've gone some distance from my early resistance to RP. If one could expect to have the experience that rogermoore had, RP would be an easier decision, of course.

I'm going back to my local radiologist in a couple of weeks to talk about M.D. Anderson's opinion, which differed from his, that seeds are not a good alternative for me.

Then, we'll see...

Posts: 13
Joined: Jul 2005

I got the catheter out Friday and I'm already very pleased, but I'm in a hurry now and don't have time, talk to you tomrrow. Twinbrook2

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