29 March 2009

Sometimes the Cure Is Worse

Impotence and loss of bladder control are the humiliating side effects of treating prostate cancer by surgery. Yet as this kind of tumor grows very slowly, it might be possible to retain one’s dignity and live just as long without treatment.

So some urologists argue that the cure is worse than the disease. Dr. James Talcott of the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston directed a study that looked at data from 192 patients as three hospitals associated with Harvard University.

In the month before the study, some 77% of patients who’d undergone surgery reported they were impotent and 40% said they wore pads for urinary incontinence. The figures for men who had undergone radiation therapy were only 41% and 5%. The findings fuel the debate about removing the gland in men who show early signs of cancer.

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