Dr. Drew Pinsky, an internist, addiction medicine specialist and TV personality, underwent surgery in July to remove his prostate after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, he announced on a blog post on HLN.
Pinsky, who is now 55, initially went to the doctor for a check-up in 2011. There, he took a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, a common screening test for prostate cancer. Pinsky's doctor found that his PSA level was a "4," up from a "1" -- which for some men could mean something, while for others, it could mean nothing -- and he also had an enlarged central prostate lobe. He was diagnosed with inflammation of the prostate, but because of the slightly elevated PSA score, Pinsky's doctor opted to also conduct a biopsy -- which revealed that he had a low-grade tumor.
Active surveillance was the approach Pinsky and his doctor decided together to take until, two biopsies later, it became clear that the tumor was spreading. Pinsky opted to have a radical robotic prostatectomy in July 2013 -- essentially, a surgical procedure where the prostate gland is completely removed from the body. And good thing he opted to have the procedure; he wrote that "the tumor had a 'finger' on it that was millimeters from being contained. It was ready to spread, and would have, had it not been removed."
So why didn't Pinsky elect to have the prostatectomy earlier, when it first became clear that he had prostate cancer? He wrote:
My years of training and experience had taught me not to panic about prostate issues. Research shows 30 percent of low-grade prostate tumors get worse during a 10-year span. Thirty percent get better. Thirty percent stay the same.
Indeed, not all prostate cancer tumors are the same. Some tumors grow so slowly that, if it's discovered in a man who is of an older age who has a limited life expectancy, it may not grow rapidly enough to pose a health risk. It's also a good option for men whose tumors aren't causing any symptoms, or if it seems to be confined to just one part of the prostate, the Mayo Clinic noted.
During active surveillance, a doctor will continuously monitor the growth, if any, of a prostate cancer tumor. What active surveillance does not entail, is drugs, surgery or radiation. The tumor is monitored with ultrasounds, PSA tests, digital rectal exams and biopsies (to determine aggressiveness), according to the American Cancer Society.
That's not to say that every man with a low-risk prostate cancer tumor will opt for active surveillance. The University of California, San Francisco, points out that the idea of having cancer -- even if it's not yet harmful -- can make some men uncomfortable, while other men may not want to do regular checkups with their doctor. However, active surveillance is an option for men who don't want to experience negative side effects from cancer treatment, such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Indeed, Pinsky pointed out in his blog post that fears about cancer treatment side effects often keep men from getting screened for prostate cancer in the first place. He wrote:
What concerns many males faced with prostate cancer is not the cancer itself, but possible incontinence, and sex. Nerves at the base of the penis, necessary for an erection, can be irreparably damaged by surgery and radiation. Research shows that many men do not get tested for prostate cancer because they fear the effects of surgery they may not even need!
I returned to work 10 days after the surgery. In hindsight, the job(s) could have waited. I am working out again, eating well and feeling very good. I’ll begin running again soon. The only remnant of cancer surgery is six small scars on my torso. They are fading fast. I’m hopeful I am cured.
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The long-time "Law & Order" star announced his prostate cancer diagnosis in late 2004, at the age of 69. His manager said that he had been <a href="http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/6765565/ns/today-entertainment/t/law-order-star-jerry-orbach-dies/#.T42htzLLzac" target="_hplink">receiving treatment since the spring</a>, and the series creator Dick Wolf told "People" that Orbach was <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,845383,00.html" target="_hplink">expected to make a full recovery</a>, but he <a href="http://gothamist.com/2004/12/29/farewell_jerry_orbach_has_died.php" target="_hplink">died just a few weeks later</a>.
Robert De Niro
Little was disclosed about the actor's battle with prostate cancer, other than his 2003 diagnosis and the fact that <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2003-10-20/entertainment/deniro.cancer_1_prostate-cancer-stan-rosenfield-full-recovery?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ" target="_hplink">doctors predicted a full recovery</a>, according to De Niro's spokesman. <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2003-10-21-prostate-cancer-cover_x.htm" target="_hplink">His father died of cancer</a> in 1993 at the age of 71, according to <em>USA Today</em>, but De Niro was given a clean bill of health, even <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/prostate-cancer-pictures/famous-men-who-battled-prostate-cancer.aspx#/slide-2" target="_hplink">becoming a father for the sixth time in 2011</a>.
The former South African president was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2001, at the age of 83. Sixteen years earlier, he had surgery to remove some <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/prostate-cancer-pictures/famous-men-who-battled-prostate-cancer.aspx#/slide-11" target="_hplink">benign tumors on his prostate</a>, but a spokeswoman said the tumor was "microscopic" and would not require surgery this time. Instead, Mandela was treated with <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1454103.stm" target="_hplink">seven weeks of radiation</a>.
The former New York City mayor's father died of prostate cancer, so when he was diagnosed, he told <em>USA Today</em>, "I wished it would just go away." He said he didn't have any symptoms, but after a routine physical his doctor wanted him to see a urologist. After he was diagnosed, he opted for hormone therapy and radiation treatment and <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlighthealth/2002-10-14-giuliani_x.htm" target="_hplink">urges all men over 50 to get screened</a>.
"In 1999 when I was first diagnosed <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlighthealth/2003-06-10-torre_x.htm" target="_hplink">I had no symptoms</a>," the retired baseball manager, told <em>USA Today</em>. "When my prostate was removed, it was actually very normal looking. That's why they call it a silent killer." He was 58 at the time -- and his daughter only 3. "I wanted to be around for her," he told the <em>New York Times</em>, opting for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/sports/baseball/joe-torre-and-baseball-putting-the-focus-on-prostate-cancer.html" target="_hplink">aggressive surgery</a>. He has since spoken out in hopes of raising awareness.
The former Secretary of State had successful surgery in 2003 to <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2003-12-15/us/powell.surgery_1_prostate-cancer-slow-growing-cancer-hormone-therapy?_s=PM:US" target="_hplink">remove his prostate</a> at age 66. Doctors didn't expect him to require much further care after <a href="http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20031215/colin-powell-undergoes-prostate-surgery" target="_hplink">two weeks of recuperation after the operation</a>.
The senator underwent surgery in 2003 to remove his prostate, after being diagnosed with the disease that <a href="http://www.salon.com/2003/02/13/kerry_7/" target="_hplink">killed his father only three years earlier</a>. "Senator Kerry is a poster boy for early detection," his surgeon said in a statement. "We caught this very early and for that reason the prognosis couldn't be more optimistic." "It may sound strange to some of you, but I really feel very lucky as I stand here," Kerry said at a news conference, the <em>New York Times</em> reported. "And the reason I feel lucky is that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/12/us/kerry-to-undergo-surgery-for-prostate-cancer-today.html" target="_hplink">I'm going to be cured</a>."
Andrew Lloyd Weber
In 2009, at age 61, the composer behind musicals including "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Evita" announced he was being treated for <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20315334,00.html" target="_hplink">early stage prostate cancer</a>. In 2010, after getting a clean bill of health, Lloyd Weber, who was <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569475,00.html#ixzz1sK0TNL9f" target="_hplink">knighted in 1992</a> and named to Britain's House of Lords in 1997, spoke out in favor of prostate cancer <a href="http://www.webmd.boots.com/prostate-cancer/news/20100720/lloyd-webber-demands-prostate-cancer-screening" target="_hplink">screening for all men over 50</a>.
The golf legend was in the news recently after being hospitalized for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/arnold-palmer-high-blood-pressure-hypertension-medication_n_1379959.html" target="_hplink">high blood pressure as a result of a new medication</a>, but he also made health headlines for beating prostate cancer in 1997. Deciding to have surgeons <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/prostate-cancer/0606/arnold-palmer-tees-up-for-prostate-cancer-awareness.aspx" target="_hplink">remove his prostate completely</a>, Palmer later told WebMD, "was probably the best thing I ever did."
The actor, best known for starring in "Easy Rider," lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2010 <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20337801,00.html" target="_hplink">at the age of 74</a>. He <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2010/01/dennis-hopper-divorce-prostate-cancer.html" target="_hplink">filed for divorce</a> in the middle of his illness, just as he began a round of chemotherapy, saying in a statement "I... only want to spend these difficult days surrounded by my children and close friends." He was honored with a <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/30/local/la-me-hopper-20100530" target="_hplink">star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame</a> in March, just months before passing away.
The now-retired Kansas senator was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 1991. He credits <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-05-18/news/9202140781_1_prostate-cancer-early-detection-dole" target="_hplink">early detection</a> as key to beating the disease, and afterward gave interviews, appeared in TV ads and spoke to Congress to promote communication between men and their doctors about <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-204_162-9004.html" target="_hplink">prostate-related problems</a>.
In the mid-90s, the singer was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a routine checkup. Surgeons successfully <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20142089,00.html" target="_hplink">removed his prostate</a> and he began to speak out in hopes of raising public awareness of a disease he called "an epidemic." He focused in particular on how men in the past seemed <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/1997-04-21/news/ls-50829_1_prostate-cancer" target="_hplink">too "macho" to discuss prostate cancer</a>. He told the <em>LA Times</em>: <blockquote>The prostate is something that attacks that central part of the male body that men are very preoccupied with. Somehow, any disorder there means your life is over, you can't be a man anymore, you are now something less.</blockquote>
The former president of France was diagnosed with prostate cancer soon after he was elected in 1981, but didn't announce his illness to the public for more than 10 years, after he had <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/10/news/10iht-mitt.t_0.html" target="_hplink">surgery in 1992</a>. Only <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984025,00.html" target="_hplink">one in 10 men with his diagnosis survives</a> longer than a decade, according to "Time," but he did, thanks to a treatment regimen of hormones and other therapies, according to the <em>New York Times</em>, until his <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/8/newsid_4489000/4489322.stm" target="_hplink">death in 1996</a>, at 79, from the disease.
Country musician and member of Montgomery Gentry band said in a statement that he had been <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20443662,00.html" target="_hplink">diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010</a>. "I will be undergoing surgery to remove the cancerous tumor in December," he said. "I will be back in January ready to rock for all the fans!" "People" reported.
The controversial radio host announced his diagnosis of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/16/don-imus-i-have-prostate_n_175203.html" target="_hplink">Stage 2 prostate cancer</a> on his morning show in 2009. He <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20265826,00.html" target="_hplink">said the prognosis was positive</a>, and that he had great faith in his doctors, People.com reported. "I'll be fine. If I'm not fine, then I won't be fine. And it's not a big deal," he said.