Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Swedish prostate study

Great news for men has come out of Sweden recently. A twenty-year study has concluded that prostate screening does not - I repeat, NOT - significantly reduce death rates.
Sure, a glass-is-half-empty kind of person might read that and be depressed. If screening doesn’t help, what hope is there? Are we all destined to live in fear of sudden and deadly prostate troubles attacking us? Well, perhaps.
But the real point, the optimistic view, if you will, is that if prostate screenings aren’t particularly helpful in terms of saving your life, we don’t need to undergo the procedure. Yay for us! That yearly “gift” you were expecting from your doctor beginning around age 40? The one you’ve been dreading and that most guys put off as long as possible anyway? Don’t worry about it! It won’t help, so why suffer through the stress and discomfort?
Obviously there are many example of prostate screenings that have saved lives. The study shows, however, that for every life saved there is another one that develops problems in that dark and shadowy area because of the screenings. They conclude that rather than apply blanket screenings to every ‘Y’ chromosome owner, it would be more productive (both in terms of lives saved and medical costs) to pursue less invasive methods of determining risk potential before leaping for the latex gloves.
I applaud this sentiment. I’m guessing doctors do, too. Is this really something they look forward to in their day? Without getting into graphic details, men aren’t clean creatures, unfortunately. A disturbing number don’t even wash their hands after using the restroom; is it likely they’d be fastidious about cleaning other, less savory and harder to reach places?
It makes a fellow wonder if maybe the doctors have fudged the numbers of the study to get out of an unpleasant chore. I wouldn’t put it past them. These is the same group of people that used to appear in cigarette commercials, after all.
(As a side-note, apparently I have a problem typing “prostate.” By fingers automatically type an extra “r” in there, and the spell-checker doesn’t pick up on “prostrate.” I ended up using the “Find and Replace” feature; there were three of them to correct.)

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