Friday, April 29, 2011

Latest Salvage Radiation News

Researchers in Munich, Germany, studied 96 men at a single institution, and found that--as did earlier research done by William Catalona and others--that although most men show a significant drop in PSA after SRT, in the long run, most will see their PSA start to rise.  In this case, 35% remained free of PSA progression at 5 years post-SRT.

Outcome After Conformal Salvage Radiotherapy in Patients With Rising Prostate-Specific Antigen Levels After Radical Prostatectomy.

Klinikum rechts der Isar der Technischen Universit√§t M√ľnchen




Clinical Trials

This was in an issue of the New York Times this week.  It's sort of an op-ed advertisement for Mt. Sinai hospital.   The authors call for increased funding for clinical trials for breast cancer.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of CancerClinical trials are a crucial part of all cancer research.  I'm reading The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee right now (highly recommended, by the way) and just happen to be on the part that describes how clinical trials for cancer came to be.  He opens with a quote by H.J. Koning: "Randomised screening trials are bothersome.  It takes ages to come to an answer, and these need to be large-scale projects to be able to answer the questions.  [But...] there is no second-best option."

Indeed, many cancer trials never get off the ground because they lack participants.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Encouraging New Study on Salvage Radiation

Varian linear accelerator.  
The March 2011 issue of Cancer, a journal from the American Cancer Society, carried promising news for all of us SRT (salvage radiotherapy) guys:  salvage radiation has been shown, for the first time, to confer a survival benefit across the patient population, and PSA doubling time did not matter significantly.   Some well-known doctors (D'Amico and Moul, for example) from Harvard and Dana Farber co-authored the study which looked at 519 men who had prostatectomies at Duke University between 1988 and 2008.  The median followup time was 11.3 years.  The way I understand hazard ratios, the results mean that the risk of death from all causes was roughly half that of men who did not have salvage radiation.

Photo courtesy digital cat: Used under Creative Commons license with thanks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How Old is Too Old?

I know my father, a prostate cancer survivor nearly 80, has stopped PSA testing.  He was treated nearly 20 years ago and his PSA has been undetectable.  What's the point of testing?  If his PSA starts creeping up at this point, he's in no danger. 

Screening Prostates at Any Age
Published: April 11, 2011
Older men are getting screened for prostate cancer at a higher rate, though many experts discourage screening for men whose life expectancy is 10 years or less.
Gina Kolata is one of the best medical writers out there, IMHO. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kindle - a portable prostate cancer library?

I just got a Kindle--quite an amazing piece of technology.  Far lighter than an actual book, it can hold thousands of titles.  I started looking at what prostate cancer books are available in Kindle format, and there are quite a few.  Not all, but a lot of the ones I like and refer to often.  I will probably load up with a few, so I always have a reference library at hand.

If you haven't held a Kindle, you should give it a try.  The display is not a computer screen.  It's not LCD. There is no light shining from it.  It uses real ink particles on a surface that looks like real paper.  Battery life is impressive, since after arranging the text on the page, the device isn't using any energy to display it.  Books on Amazon are cheaper than the paperback versions (Walsh's book, for example, is $11.55 in paperback, but $9.99 in Kindle format) and they download very quickly.  I bought and downloaded a novel last night--Game of Thrones, about 600 pages--in a minute.  You can literally think of a book and be reading it in a few moments.  Want to read a major newspaper?  You can buy today's copy--just today's, if you want--for the newsstand price and take it on the plane with you without messing with newsprint and all the rest.

I got the one that is $139.  It doesn't connect via 3G, only Wi-Fi, which is fine with me, since I have wireless at home, work, and it seems to be in most coffee shops now as well.  I also bought the leather cover. 

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

Here are some prostate cancer books available in Kindle format.

Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer, Second EditionJohns Hopkins Patients' Guide to Prostate CancerProstate Cancer For DummiesDon't Fear the Big Dogs