Posts Tagged ‘Proton Therapy’

Another Government-Funded Group Recommends Against Prostate Cancer Screening

January 19, 2012

Earlier this month, another report recommended against mass screening for prostate cancer. This time it was a study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Their position is that annual screening of m their 50s and 60s does not save lives. A critic pointed out that their research model was flawed in that a control group of men who were not screened was not part of the study. This study fall on the heels of a government committee’s recommendation last fall that mass screening for prostate cancer be stopped because it doesn’t save lives.

This month, the American Cancer Society published its annual statistics on various cancer types. Included in this report is a chart that graphs the deaths per 100,000 men for the seven cancers that kill the most men on a year-by-year basis since 1930. Prostate cancer was the third leading cause of cancer death to men from 1930 to the early 1980s when its increasing death rate surpassed that of cancer of the colon and rectum’s decreasing death rate. The death rate for prostate cancer continued to increase through the early to mid 1990s at which time it began to decrease and continues to decrease at about the same rate to the present. (See graph below)

The reason for the decrease in the death rate is not known with certainty. The likely contributing factors are: mass screening, improved treatment techniques, and treating the disease in earlier states. To make matters even less clear, these factors are interrelated. For example, mass screening detects prostate cancer at a much earlier stage of development than if the patient presented with symptoms. Higher levels of success are likely when treating earlier, lower-grade cancers with improved treatments.

Eliminating mass screening would likely result in more men presenting with symptoms that generally are related with prostate cancer at more advanced stages and are more difficult to treat. It seems intuitive that the direction of the graph would change dramatically if screening is terminated. The American Cancer Society report can be found at: http://www.cancer.org/Research/CancerFactsFigures/CancerFactsFigures/cancer-facts-figures-2012

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Veteran Service Officers

October 25, 2011

My proton therapy treatment for prostate cancer was completed two months ago today. So far, so good.  Last Thursday, I spoke at the annual training meeting of the New Jersey Association of Veteran Service officers in Atlantic City. It was a great meeting. I was received well by the VSOs in attendance and learned much from other speakers. I was pleasantly surprised by the interest the VSOs showed in helping the vets they serve. VSOs are generally government workers who are employees of the counties in which their offices are located. Government workers can sometimes be less than interested in helping the public. Not so with the VSOs I met. Most of the men and women I met at the meeting were veterans. That surely influences how they relate to vets seeking assistance. Some of the VSOs were also disabled. If memory serves, three of them used motorized chairs to get around and another one used a manual wheelchair.

My talk was fit in at the end of a packed schedule. Even though they were attending a banquet a little later that day, most stayed for my talk and listened attentively. Some asked good questions and afterwards some informed me of benefits that aren’t widely known. For example, a 100% rating is not always the maximum. Under certain conditions, disabled vets can be awarded considerably more than 100%.  I doubt if I am eligible for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), but the old sergeant I served with may be because he has a number of serious medical conditions, more than one of which is an Agent Orange disease.

Several people took copies of Prostate Cancer and the Veteran home with them because it contains some information that is new to them. Of course, they already knew all about dealing with the VA.

My Absence

October 7, 2011

Early in the summer, I announced that posts to this blog would be irregular for a time without stating a reason for the disruption. The reason for my absence was that I was spending the summer in Bloomington, Indiana receiving treatments for prostate cancer at the Indiana University Health Proton Center.  Choosing a treatment modality, proton therapy, that is not widely known was the result of extensive research. The research uncovered some things that were completely unexpected. The one that had the greatest impact was that I was probably exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam in 1967. Those who served in Vietnam during the time that Agent Orange was sprayed are eligible for disabilities and treatment from the Veterans Administration.  Unfortunately, the government does not put the same emphasis on informing veterans who were harmed while serving their country that it does soliciting “clients” for its welfare programs.

Knowing that I was far from being an isolated case, I decided to write a small book that veterans can use to help them navigate the VA and healthcare systems. My treatment for prostate cancer is complete and, after only seven months since first applying, my VA disability was approved. Prostate Cancer and the Veteran should make their process a bit easier than mine was.

This blog won’t be back to its old regularity just yet because, the day before my last treatment, I had a bicycle accident that fractured a vertebra. I’m far from being 100% yet and it appears it will take some time for that to happen. I do have a blog article underway. Carlisle Indians vs the Big Ten may surprise some people.

Hampton University Forges New Field — Again

April 11, 2011

When most people think of Hampton University, they consider it to be a historically black educational institution, which it is, of course. However, It is more than that. In 1878, Lt. Richard Henry Pratt convinced 17 of the younger of his former prisoners at Fort Marion, Florida to enroll in an educational program he established at what was then called Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Pratt soon disagreed with Hampton’s policy of cloistering students from the community at large and proceeded to found Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Hampton did not stop educating Indians; it continued enrolling them for decades. Their records are a source of information for people researching Carlisle students as sometimes some family members attended Hampton while others attended Carlisle. Very few appear to have attended both schools. One person, and probably more, Angel deCora, the famous Winnebago artist, was first educated at Hampton and later taught at Carlisle.

Hampton University recently became the home of something else of interest to people living in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, the eighth such installation in the U. S. and the largest in the world, completed treatment of it first group of patients in November. These men were treated for Prostate Cancer but Proton Therapy is not limited to that application as it is also used to treat a variety of other types of cancer. Their web site states that Hampton Roads leads the country in Prostate Cancer deaths. That fact might be one of the reasons the $220M facility was located where it is. That the Department of Defense ponied up $7.9M toward its costs may be because so many military personnel are stationed in the Hampton Roads area or retire there. Large numbers of Viet Nam veterans are afflicted with Prostate and other cancers due to exposure to Agent Orange. Apparently, Agent Orange affected more than just the people who handled it in their daily work or those who trudged through the terrain that had been sprayed with the defoliant.

Proton Therapy appears to be the Prostate Cancer treatment modality with the fewest side effects of the available treatment options. Next time back to football, I think.