“It could well be, you know,” Oppal said. “Everything was available in the ’60s, you know? School’s out. All those mores of the ’50s disappeared. I always tell my kids the ’60s was the ”˜real decade’. I don’t tell them the free love part of it, but the great social movements of the time.”
The University of Nottingham researchers concluded: “These findings could imply different mechanisms by which sexual activity is involved in the aetiology of prostate cancer at different ages. Alternatively, there is a possibility of reverse causation in explaining part of the protective effect seen for men in their 50s.”
Alan So, an assistant professor at UBC’s urological-sciences department, told the Straight that he wasn’t aware of the study. But he said that he had seen a January 28 news release from the B.C. Cancer Agency touting brachytherapy, a form of radiation therapy, as a “likely cure” for prostate cancer.
So, however, cautioned that there is still “no cure” for prostate cancer. “There is definite progress being made,” So, also a surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital, said in a phone interview. “Every day we are refining the surgery. Every day we are refining the radiation. But unfortunately, there is no cure per se for everyone.”
Of 1,006 patients treated with brachytherapy, the provincial agency stated that 95 percent of them did not experience a “biochemical recurrence”, or a rise in PSA levels in the blood.
In the release, program head Dr. Mira Keyes said brachytherapy should be “considered a gold standard treatment for men with localized prostate cancer”.
However, according to So, “There really is no gold standard.”
So said radiation is one option for men diagnosed early but added that surgery to remove the prostate can also be effective.
Mark Kostich photo
“There are many options that are considered ”˜standard of care’, but there is no single best option,” So said. “There are no research papers that have compared prostate surgery—where we actually remove the entire gland—versus brachytherapy or external beam therapy. So it is very difficult to compare the two modalities, because there have been no good research studies to compare the two. Both offer excellent treatments.”
Added So, “There are many patients with localized low-risk prostate cancer that we can treat very well and can have a long-term so-called cure—as an oncologist I hate using the word cure per se—but long-term control. At the same time, we cannot say that one is better than the other.”
In Canada, one in six men will get prostate cancer during their lifetimes, according to So. He added that B.C. has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer but also boasts “the lowest mortality associated with prostate cancer in Canada”.
“I can tell you that there are 2,900 new cases of prostate cancer in B.C. per year,” So said. “It is still the most common cancer in men.”
Whatever one’s sexual drive, So said getting tested is always a good move.
“I think all men, especially black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer, should at the very least discuss testing and screening for prostate cancer at a very early age,” he said. “If you have any of the risk factors—if you are black or have a family history of prostate cancer—then you should get checked in your early 40s. And if not, you should consider getting tested between the ages of 40 and 50.”
Past studies, including a 2008 University of Bristol study published in the British Journal of Cancer, have highlighted that black men are more at risk of developing prostate cancer than nonblack men.
So said people can further reduce the risk by not smoking, eating a low-meat and low-fat diet, controlling sugar intake, and living a physically active lifestyle.