The C-E-O of Iowa-based Meredith Corporation confirmed this week that he is being treated for prostate cancer. University of Iowa urologist Doctor Richard Williams says the disease is so common, most men will get it if they live long enough — and he adds it’s not a medical concern, in many cases. He says if a man lives long enough, he’ll likely get prostate cancer, but it’s not likely to cause a problem; on the other hand, he says out of 190-thousand men diagnosed this year with prostate cancer, 30-thousand will die. For those 30,000 men, it’s a big problem, so the doctor’s challenge is to figure out which of them have a case that will progress and how they should treat it. So far, the tools to make that decision include a microscope, to examine a bit of the tumor’s cellular structure, and a measurement of a blood chemical called P-S-A, or Prostate-Specific Antigen.He says a 70-year-old man who has a relatively low Prostate-Specific Antigen and no high-grade tumor, or has other significant diseases, won’t likely die of the prostate cancer so treating it would cause him more harm than benefit. Williams Many other factors, including overall health and genetic tendencies, influence whether prostate cancer will be a threat to a patient’s health. The doctor says he jokes that if a patient, even at age 70, is brought in by his parents, then he has nothing to worry about, but reiterates that men in their 70s who develop prostate cancer generally don’t have to worry that it will harm them. Dr. Williams says while they’re a couple years away, several promising treatments for prostate cancer are in the works.There’s work being done at the U of Iowa with vaccines, and at Northwestern University they’re working on some substance made by tumors that could be a clue to curing them.
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