The Fabulous Murstachios
Trent Ernst, Editor
According to the research, one in seven men on average will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. This year alone, 26,500 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and 4000 men will die from the disease.
Murray Smith is a one in seven kind of guy, and in December of 2009, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and had surgery for it in July of 2010. “The thing that got me was I wasn’t experiencing a lot of symptoms. They recommend that men after the age of 50 get the PSA test every year. I had been getting that and the finger probe regularly, and out of the blue, my number doubled, and Charles thought I should have that investigated.”
The way to have that investigated is to have a biopsy. “It’s horrible. Absolutely horrible. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced,” says Smith. “They took six samples, and one of them had cancer.”
Having been diagnosed with cancer, Smith was given the choice of what to do: to have surgery or to wait and see. “I got three different opinions; I went to Prince George and talked to a surgeon there, I talked to Charles, and I went to Edmonton and talked with a surgeon there.”
Smith decided to have the operation. “I thought I’m relatively young, I’ll probably deal with surgery now better than I would later. I decided to go with the surgeon in Edmonton, because he does robotic surgery, which is less intrusive. They make six little incisions, and somehow they take out the prostate. It takes about six weeks to recover from that, which isn’t very pleasant, either. It was horrible. But the surgeon said it was a complete success.”
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “Prostate cancer can be detected early using a PSA test and a digital rectal exam. However, research does not clearly show if the benefits of testing for prostate cancer outweigh the harms. We recommend that you talk to your doctor about your risk for prostate cancer and about the benefits and harms of early detection.”
The prostate is a gland that forms a part of the male reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and is the most common form of cancer in men. Since it grows slowly, one of the recommended treatments for it is simply monitoring. In addition to surgery, treatment can include radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy.
Does Smith credit the PSA test with saving his life? He’s not sure. “Since having the operation, I’ve discovered a lot of controversay about the test, that surgeons and doctors tend to be a little over-zealous in using that and performing operations. Men are left impotent. Some die, some have other problems, and maybe it didn’t have to be done. Maybe waiting and seeing would have been better.”
Smith says that most men die with prostate cancer. “Most men outlive the cancer. They die before the cancer kills them.”