Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sex After Prostate Cancer

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Treatments for prostate cancer take a significant toll on male potency, leaving a surprisingly high percentage of men unable to have a normal sex life, new research shows.
The findings, based on a study of more than 1,000 men treated for prostate cancer at multiple medical centers, show that whether a man is able to achieve adequate erections after treatment for prostate cancer varies greatly depending on a number of individual variables, including his age, the extent of his cancer and the quality of his sex life before treatment.

Over all, fewer than half of the men who reported good sexual function before cancer had managed to regain it two years after treatment. But the chances of sexual recovery varied widely. After two years, some men had less than a 10 percent chance of achieving adequate erections after treatment, whereas others had a 70 percent or greater chance of a relatively normal sex life.

The results were not encouraging, but for the first time offer men a more personalized model for predicting sexual recovery after cancer treatment.

Cancer experts say the data, published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, are sorely needed, in light of marketing efforts that are aimed at wooing men toward particular types of treatment but that often leave patients with unrealistic expectations. Many men report feeling shocked and depressed when their sex lives fail to return to normal after treatment.

“I think being transparent about what the pros and cons are, the reality — that’s important,’’ said Dr. Martin G. Sanda, senior author on the research and co-director of the prostate cancer program at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. “For any of the treatments for prostate cancer, it would be misleading to tell someone they have a 100 percent chance of sexual recovery, or even a 95 percent chance. It’s easier for a couple to face that and deal with that if they are expecting it than if they were oversold and told there weren’t going to be any issues.”

The study evaluated sexual function among men at nine academic medical centers who had undergone one of three treatments for prostate cancer: surgical removal of the prostate; radiation therapy; or brachytherapy, which uses radioactive seed implants.

Over all, just 35 percent of men in the surgery group, 37 percent of men in the radiation group and 43 percent of men in the brachytherapy group were able to have sexual intercourse two years after treatment.

Because the men weren’t randomly assigned to a treatment, the data don’t demonstrate whether one treatment is better than another. For instance, men who opt for brachytherapy are typically younger and healthier than men who undergo radiation treatment, so the results can’t be compared.

However, the researchers were able to determine which variables are most important for predicting a man’s erectile function after treatment. In all three treatment groups, the quality of a man’s erections before treatment — determined using a questionnaire about his sex life — helped predict his sexual recovery. Among surgical patients, a man’s age and his P.S.A. score, which measures prostate specific antigen, and whether he had nerve-sparing surgery also helped predict his chances of resuming a normal sex life. For men undergoing radiation treatment, those who had not also undergone hormone therapy were more likely to regain erectile function two years after treatment. Among men who had brachytherapy, a younger age and lower body weight helped predict a better recovery compared with men who were older or obese.

One limit of the study is that it followed the men for only two years. Men who undergo radiation and brachytherapy may experience a decline in erectile function two or more years after treatment, whereas men who undergo surgery may experience improvement.

Dr. Sanda said the data would allow doctors to take a more personalized approach as they talk to patients about the risks of a given treatment and counsel them about the benefits of drugs and other therapies that can improve erectile function.

“By and large, a lot of what we counsel men has been based on generalized average numbers,’’ said Dr. Sanda. “This really creates a more concrete metric as to what patients might expect.”
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Ovarian Cancer Screening - Doesn't Save Lives And May Not Need Treatment

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(NaturalNews) There's no denying ovarian cancer is usually a terrible disease. A stealthy malignancy, it's often misdiagnosed as indigestion and by the time ovarian cancer is actually discovered by a doctor, the disease may have spread extensively. According to the National Institutes of Health, ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women and causes more deaths than any other type of female reproductive cancer.

So it might seem like a potentially life-saving move to have all women 55 and older -- the age group that suffers most often from this form of cancer -- screened regularly for the disease with transvaginal ultrasound and the blood test that measures serum cancer antigen 125 (CA-125).

These are expensive tests but, if they could save the lives of women by pinpointing ovarian malignancies early, they are certainly worth it. After all, the screening tests should save countless lives, right?

Unfortunately, according to new research headed by Saundra S. Buys, M.D., of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, that assumption is wrong. What's more, the tests can lead to unneeded surgeries and serious complications in women who actually have no cancer at all.

But the study came to another surprising -- and positive -- conclusion, too. It turns out that not all ovarian cancers may be deadly or even need treatment.

For the study, which was just published in the June 8 issue of JAMA, Dr. Buys and her team investigated studies of almost 80,000 women to compare outcomes between women who received standard health care with no specific testing for ovarian cancer, unless they had overt symptoms, and those who received regular, ovarian cancer screening. The results showed no reduced risk of death from ovarian cancer for those aggressively screened for the disease when compared to women who received usual care.

However, the study did reveal a big difference between the health outcomes of the women in the two groups. Those receiving the cancer screenings had an alarming increase in invasive medical procedures and associated harms as a result of being screened.

In all, there were 3,285 women who turned out to have false-positive results. And of these, over 1,000 were subjected to surgery (32.9 had their ovaries removed as part of the diagnostic workup). Among these 1,080 women, 163 (15 percent) experienced a total of 222 distinct major complications.

Bottom line: the research team concluded there is no evidence from clinical trials to support regular screening for ovarian cancer at this time. The authors of the study also stated that even an optimized program of annual screening may be insufficient to detect cancers early enough to prevent deaths.

"Evidence from modeling suggests that aggressive cancers progress rapidly through the early stages, limiting the ability to detect these cancers with yearly screening," they stated in the paper. "We conclude that annual screening for ovarian cancer...with simultaneous CA-125 and transvaginal ultrasound does not reduce disease-specific mortality in women at average risk for ovarian cancer but does increase invasive medical procedures and associated harms."

And the researchers ended with this startling news. Apparently, not all ovarian cancers detected may be deadly at all or even need treatment: "In contrast, more ovarian cancers were diagnosed in the screened group than in the usual care group (212 vs. 176), suggesting that some of the additional cancers detected by screenings were not clinically important and, if left undetected, may never have caused any symptoms or affected the women during their life-times (i.e., overdiagnosis)."

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Effects Of Common Psychiatrics Drugs - Online Database

(NaturalNews) If you have ever seen a commercial for a pharmaceutical drug, you are probably familiar with the long list of dangerous side effects that are rattled off in the last five seconds of the advertisement, just after viewers are told how Drug "X" is going to save their lives, improve their memories or give them unlimited energy. What was that? Did he just say that pill might cause bleeding out of my eyes?

Drug companies do a great job - and spend a lot of money - to ensure that most consumers aren't aware of the harmful side effects of common drugs prescribed for conditions like depression, heart disease, arthritis, ADHD or high blood pressure. Unfortunately, the result of this has created a society where the average person with a health problem is captivated by the promises delivered in clever advertising. There is a drug for everything? All I have to do is talk to my doctor? How convenient.

But what if there was a way to take back control of our lives and our health? What if, despite talking to your doctor, you still have questions or concerns about the safety of a drug?

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) has a database that allows you to do just that. It's called the Psychiatric Drug Database, and it allows consumers to research the potential side effects of common psychiatric drugs, such as Ritalin or Wellbutrin.

While the database is limited to psychiatric drugs, this type of public information portal represents a significant step in the right direction to help patients find unbiased information and make informed decisions about their health.

The database allows you to search by drug and will retrieve information about adverse reactions reported by patients who have taken the drug, international warnings and studies that have been done on the drug and what side effects different age groups or genders have experienced. For example, a search of the effects of Ritalin on 18-30 year old women retrieved 89 reported cases of adverse side effects.

These effects including anxiety, fatigue, hypertension, tremors, chest discomfort, nausea, panic attacks, cardiac murmurs, aggression, suicide attempts and completed suicides. The results are broken down by case and list specific symptoms and reactions caused by the drug in each reported case.

Another search of Zoloft and its effects on young children included cases of cerebral disorders, upper respiratory tract infections, sleep disorders, vertigo, hallucinations, psychomotor hyperactivity and suicidal ideation.

The database only includes information on cases that were actually reported to the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System between 2004 and 2008. Based on the FDA's own estimates, only about 1 to 10 percent of adverse drug side effects are even reported to the FDA. The CCHR's database, therefore, represents only a small margin of the population that has been affected by adverse side effects of pharmaceutical psychiatric drugs.

Visitors to the site will also notice an interesting anecdote that describes how the definition of poison - a substance that causes death or harm when consumed by a living organism - clearly characterizes the drugs listed in the database. Consumers are encouraged to research potential problems of a drug before agreeing with their doctors to start a course of therapy.
To find more information about a particular drug, visit

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