Saturday, June 14, 2014


This scenario was so common in my clinic that it is almost cliché: men refusing to acknowledge they have an illness until it is too late. I don’t know if this is a genetic thing, perhaps some DNA located on the hairy ear chromosome, or if it is cultural. I know, it is difficult for American males to admit weaknesses and ask for help. Even when we get to the point of crisis and ask for help, a common response in this country is “help yourself.” Been there; heard that.
Let’s talk prostate cancer. It is a touchy subject, one that men don’t want to discuss and many females find “yucky” for some reason. For example, when I found the supplement called “Man Gold” at the Vitamin Shoppe, one of my daughters originally “liked” it on facebook then retracted it when she read that it “supports prostate health.” I guess thinking about your father’s private parts is taboo.
Here are some prostate cancer facts taken from the American Cancer Society website:
            Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
  • About 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed
  • About 29,480 men will die of prostate cancer.
  • About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
  • Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
  • Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.
This avoidance of men’s issues is evident on a national level, too. According to the New York Times:
            Among the big cancers, breast cancer receives the most funding per new case, $2,596 — and by far the most money relative to each death, $13,452. Notably, prostate cancer, the most common cancer, receives the least funding per new case at just $1,318. But on a per-death basis it ranks second, with $11,298 in N.C.I. funds.”
You can help change both scenarios: men’s seemingly natural tendency to address health issues and the avoidance/repulsiveness attitude about the prostate. Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network is “a grassroots, registered 501(c)(3) non-profit prostate cancer education and support network of 325 support group chapters worldwide, providing men and their families with free information, materials and peer-to-peer support so they can make informed choices on detection, treatment options and coping with ongoing survivorship. The organization was founded in 1990 by five men who had been treated for prostate cancer.” Go ahead, click on the link and give your support. The group gives good advice to family members who have a loved father, grandfather, or husband with the disease. Talk about it. If mom developed cervical cancer would you shun discussing it with her?

As a tribute to fathers everywhere, including my own dad Norbert Mangold who died way too young, I am offering my book How to Think Like a Doctor for free for two days starting June 15th. Please, download it, share it, and review it on whether you like it or not. I appreciate thoughtful reviews and have made modifications based on some of those comments. It really is a good read.
Learn and enjoy!
Dr. Mike

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