By Leonard Ansin In January 2012, my wife and I had left Boston to spend a few months in sunny Florida. We had just passed Orlando when my cell phone rang. It was my primary care physician calling to tell me she was concerned that my PSA was elevated to 6, which showed that I did have a problem with my prostate. This is where it all started.
Millions of men each year have their blood tested for prostate specific antigen, or PSA, a normal protein whose levels may be elevated in men with prostate cancer or other benign diseases of the prostate. However, experts have disagreed on who should be tested, when and how frequently. Some are concerned about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. In fact, a federal advisory task force in 2012 recommended against routine PSA testing for healthy men – though many physicians disagreed.
When it comes to treating prostate cancer, proton radiotherapy (PRT) is no better than traditional intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), according to a new study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Friday. PRT is an advanced but expensive treatment option for some prostate cancer patients. However, the researchers found that the therapy offers no added treatment benefit than the standard therapy. The article concluded: “Although PRT is substantially more costly than IMRT, there was no difference in toxicity in a comprehensive cohort of Medicare beneficiaries with prostate cancer at 12 months post-treatment.”
Immunotherapy is one of the most technologically advanced yet basic forms of cancer treatment. It uses the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system, to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is probably most familiar to you in the form of vaccinations for the flu, polio, chicken pox, and other contagious diseases. In those cases, people are injected with a dead or weakened form of the virus responsible for the disease. That prompts the immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells that ward off infection from the live virus. For cancer prevention, two immune system-stimulating vaccines are now in use: one …
What age is appropriate to get screened for prostate cancer and begin treatment? Recent news surrounding Warren Buffett’s diagnosis, including a report on Boston.com, has some asking if age should factor into these decisions. Dr. Philip Kantoff, chief of the Division of Solid tumor at Dana-Farber and director of Dana-Farber’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, speaks about PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) screening and the benefits associated with undergoing active surveillance, instead of opting for radiation or surgery in appropriate patients.
The face of cancer care in 2011 changed in encouraging and – in some cases – challenging ways. Here are some of the cancer stories that captured the most press attention in 2011. A federal task force recommended against routine testing of healthy men for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can be a sign of prostate cancer. However, Dana-Farber’s Philip Kantoff, MD, called the message “misguided” and said that oncologists are using the test to find those who may benefit from screening and treatment.