Why the PCRI symposium is a great conference for prostate cancer survivors
If you are a prostate cancer survivor like I am, chances are you spend a fair amount of time staying current on issues related to surviving prostate cancer and preventing its recurrence.
Two weeks ago, I attended the PCRI conference in Los Angeles for the third consecutive year. I learned a great deal in a number of areas.
Here are a few of my key learnings from this conference
The conference lasted a full 2 and 1/2 days so it won’t be able to summarize all of the sessions, many of which were highly technical, but you can obtain copies of the presentation slides at http://www.pcri.org. All of the sessions were recorded, so they might be available later through the PCRI website.
Own your disease – presentation by Jan Manarte, a PCRI telephone counselor (and wife of 10-year prostate cancer survivor)
– Know your medical records better than the doctor
– Ask for and keep records of everything
– Become a researcher; read and you will begin to understand terminology
– Learn to ask good questions; the better the question the better and more informative the answer
– You must own your own care; it’s OK to change doctors (a number of the physicians that presented noted that not all doctors are up to the task) [My thought? I agree. You have skin in the game but your doctor doesn’t]
– Every cancer is unique and so it your case. [I agree. So far science has identified 27 different forms of prostate cancer.]
– It’s all about patient empowerment.
– You can reach Jan for advice and counseling at 239.395.0995
Breakthroughs in cancer images – Dr. Reginald Dusing
This was a great presentation, but very technical. If this is an area of importance to you, contact PCRI for a copy of Dr. Dusing’s slides. His key points:
– Bone scans don’t really work
– Prostescint is difficult to read and has only a 49% success rate
– C-11 acetate PET scans are showing great promise and is the best new technology for detecting early recurrence
Active surveillance – Dr. Lawrence Klotz
This was a very interesting presentation. Here’s the key point, “The use of active surveillance in carefully selected men with early prostate cancer is based on an increasing body of research which substantiates that treatment can often be delayed or avoided.”
The key point for me is the phrase “carefully selected.” Perhaps the greatest current challenge in prostate cancer treatment is determining which cancers are indolent and which are aggressive.
Here are a few more points from the presentation:
– Gleason 3 is indolent; Gleason 4 is aggressive
– Prostate cancer begins to metastasize at 3 cc in size
– Prostate cancer has a long window of curability – perhaps 40 years, but “younger men [with prostate cancer] are a different story.”
My personal thoughts.
There always seems to be ambiguity in prostate cancer presentations. Qualifiers like “most men” and the “vast majority of men” show up frequently. So, how are men supposed to know if they are in the majority or that unfortunate minority? I think that Jan Manarte has it right when she tells us to own our own treatment program.
These are just a few key points from my personal perspective. The doctors that presented at this conference are all leaders in their field and I urge everyone to visit http://www.pcri.org and view the presentations personally.
Just another day in Paradise.
Warm regards, Robert