Prostate Surgery Alternative Available

THURSDAY, OCT. 30, 1997

(From Ann Landers’ column, Nov. 1, 1997): The seventh warning signal that could mean cancer was left off the Oct. 30 Ann Landers column. 7. A nagging cough or hoarseness.

Dear Ann Landers: I have prostate cancer. This is the most common cancer among men. Now, because of advances in medical science, most men can be as lucky as I am.

My cancer developed after the PSA test became available, meaning it could be detected at such an early stage that chances are it won’t shorten my life. Before the PSA, many prostate cancers weren’t detected until symptoms appeared, which meant the cancer was much more advanced.

I am also lucky because my cancer developed after a new form of treatment passed muster. Instead of having to undergo debilitating surgery, which includes side effects such as impotence and incontinence, I underwent a simple outpatient procedure known as radioactive seed implant, a variant of radiotherapy.

In this procedure, doctors use hollow needles to plant tiny radioactive seeds directly in the prostate. The radiation is quite strong but has a very short range, so it destroys the tumor and minimizes damage to surrounding tissue. I was surprised to come out of the operating room without so much as a Band-Aid.

My hope is that all the men who read this will get a PSA test and, if they find they have prostate cancer, make sure they see a urologist who offers seed-implant treatment as well as surgery. Not all men are good candidates for seed implants, but for those who are, it’s better to be one of the lucky ones, like me. - Tom Stites, director of communications, Unitarian Universalist Association

Dear Tom Stites: Thank you for being so open about a problem that a great many men would not care to talk about. I am delighted you have done so well.

This information will undoubtedly reassure men who are concerned about the side effects of prostate surgery. There are not many studies available on seed implants, but the treatment looks promising. It is important, however, that you see a doctor who has successfully performed this procedure at least 25 or 30 times.

And now, dear readers, here are the seven warning signals that could mean cancer. Please read them and pay attention:

1. A change in bowel habits.

2. A sore that does not heal.

3. Unusual bleeding or discharge.

4. A thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere. (Men should check testicles every month.)

5. Persistent indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.

6. An obvious change in color or shape of a wart or mole.

Dear Ann Landers: Would you please explain again the harm a father does when he sleeps with his young daughter? I can’t seem to get through to my friend.

“Elsie” mentioned to me that her husband occasionally crawls into bed with their 9-year-old daughter. When I told her he should not be doing that, she said she trusts her husband implicitly and has no reason to believe there is anything sexual in his mind. I tried to explain how this kind of intimacy is very unhealthy to both the father and his child, but she didn’t get it.

Please print my letter and your comments so I can show it to her. - A Concerned Friend in Florida

Dear Florida: Your friend’s husband must be told emphatically to stay out of his 9-year-old daughter’s bed. Fatherly affection is healthy and should be encouraged, but it must be expressed with both parties vertical at all times. Please be clear about this. It is extremely important. That child’s entire future could depend on it.

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