What Every Man (and his Spouse) Should Know About Prostate Cancer

Every woman knows about Breast Cancer and the life-changing impact it has on their lives. They know because it has gotten enormous public exposure and support needed to spread the awareness to all women, starting at an early age.

Yet, if you ask most men how much they know about Prostate Cancer, they know very little. They may say they know a relative or friend that had it; and they know it’s mostly old men that get it; and it’s the good cancer because you won’t die from it.

Well, wake up men – you have a lot to learn.

First some statistics for you:

  • Prostate Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in American men.
  • About 1 man in 39 will die of Prostate Cancer.
  • Other than skin cancer, Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
  • American Cancer Society’s estimates for 2016:
    • Approximately 180,890 new cases of Prostate Cancer
    • Approximately 26,120 deaths from Prostate Cancer
  • About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during his lifetime.
  • About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.

It is unknown what causes Prostate Cancer and there is no sure way to prevent it. But according to the American Cancer Society there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of Prostate Cancer, such as staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

Screening can often find Prostate Cancer before any symptoms arise. When you are close to turning forty years of age, during your annual physical, your primary care doctor should start testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood and performing a digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. If either of these test results are abnormal, you will probably be referred to a Urologist for further testing for Prostate Cancer.

From a personal perspective…

Every man that has been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer can remember that day when the Urologist says your PSA is up and/or he feels something on your prostate. The doctor says it is probably cancer, and needs to do a biopsy to confirm. The doctor then gives the standard lecture about if you have to have cancer, this is the one to have; it is usually not aggressive and it is slow growing; almost all men will have it and will die with it – not because of it. You will probably die of something else. So you walk away from the visit thinking – Good news, Bad news. Bad news is you probably have Prostate Cancer. Good news is if you have cancer, this is the one to have.

The follow up consult after the biopsy results are available will determine how you will live the rest of your life. If the news is good, the nurse will usually call with the results and set a date in the future to come back for a checkup. If it is bad news they will call, tell you it is cancerous, and tell you to bring your spouse with you to consult with the doctor and discuss options. You now know that you have Prostate Cancer. A dark day indeed.

During the consult the doctor will explain how many of the biopsies were cancerous, and what level they are (Gleason score). The Gleason grading system is used to help evaluate the prognosis using samples from the prostate biopsy. Together with other factors, it is assimilated into a strategy of Prostate Cancer staging which predicts prognosis and helps guide therapy. Cancers with a higher Gleason score are more aggressive and have a worse prognosis. Your journey with Prostate Cancer has started.

If you have a low Gleason score, etc., the doctor will explain there are a lot of options to consider with a positive prognosis for a long life. However, if you have a high Gleason score, etc., meaning the cancer is aggressive, the doctor will explain that you are past the point of utilizing most of the options and will explain which options are available to you. You now know you have a cancer that can kill you if you don’t do something radical — now. This is when you have to make a life-changing decision, thus the reason for your spouse being with you. This is probably the darkest day in your life to-date.

May 20, 2011 was my darkest day. My five-year journey with cancer has been a roller-coaster of treatments, drugs, and emotions. However, I have surpassed the five-year life expectancy which most doctors base their predictions on and I will continue the fight with the next treatment or drug available, whatever it takes to defeat this beast called Cancer.

Guys, don’t take a chance. Get screened for Prostate Cancer.

It may save your life!

Cancer-Has-No-BiasCANCER IS CANCER — THERE IS NO GOOD CANCER!

Until someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer, you will not know, nor understand, the impact that cancer has on that person and their family. Their life is now lived in short snippets of time. Every treatment or drug is meant to extend their life a number months, maybe years. Even if the cancer is proclaimed to be in remission, they continue to live with the fears of it returning.

**During my journey with Prostate Cancer I have been keeping a journal. I have been working on putting it in book format, with the hope of publishing it someday to help others understand. I will be retiring in a few months and will continue working on the book.

For more information on Prostate Cancer, visit American Cancer Society’s website at the following link…  http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/index

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Health Insurance Companies are Pirates

Health insurers have managed to hijack our health care system and are holding the American people hostage. By commercializing health care, the health insurance industry is enjoying excessively high record earnings while millions of Americans get less medical care, if any. United Health Care made $9.3 billion in profits in 2012. They used $3.1 billion of that to repurchase its own stock, which effectively boosted the earnings per share for their stockholders. Even worse, in fiscal year 2013 United Health Care reported $122 billion in revenue, with 99,000 employees, and they are just one of 1300+ health plans.

The health insurance industry is enjoying record earnings while millions of Americans get less medical care. Wall Street investors are delighted with the industry’s profits, and to health insurer executives, that’s all that counts. Health insurer CEOs want investors to buy their stock and keep share prices marching higher, and that’s exactly what has happened. To achieve excessive profits, insurers are happy to gouge consumers, do little to control medical costs, and spend billions of our premium dollars on lobbying, secret political activities, bloated executive pay and stock buybacks.

Greedy by samgrittercomThey continue to make their billions in profits, but don’t ask them to share in the cost of making affordable care available to the uninsured, aging and sick among us. Even though the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) requires us to buy coverage from them, thus generating billions of dollars in new revenue for them, they don’t want to part with a penny of that money to help expand coverage to more Americans.

I believe it’s time to focus on the value—or lack thereof—that private health insurance companies actually add to our health care system. Americans might reach the conclusion that private insurers are no more essential than travel agents (remember them?), and that by dispatching health insurers to the history books, we could reduce spending on health care by billions if not trillions of dollars.” – Wendell Potter

Taking all this into consideration, exactly what value do these health insurers bring to the table. What value do they add to our health care system?

We do know this much:

  • They take as much money as possible from people who need health insurance coverage
  • They pay out as little money as possible to settle claims from creditors for health services and products that have been delivered (not by them, a third-party)
  • They keep as much money as possible for the incomes of their executives and other employees, and to enhance share value for their owners
  • They do try to attract enough premium money from customers so that they can spread the risk of a few high-cost customers across the premiums of many low-cost customers
  • They try as much as they legally can to cover as many low-cost customers as possible, and to keep as many high-cost customers out of their plans in order to maximize revenues and minimize expense
  • They try to minimize their costs by reducing (denying) the use of expensive procedures/services and covering only profitable procedures/services
  • In addition to monthly premiums, they also require some form of cost-sharing (also called out-of-pocket costs) when customers receive a health care service covered by their plan (Copays, Deductibles, Coinsurance)
  • They have succeeded in growing their companies, making their executives rich, and rewarding their shareholders with obscene profits

I must have my dark sunglasses on because I can’t seem to see any value the health insurers add at all. They are just middlemen, skimming huge profits off the top.

At some point capitalism took over health care and it became a for-profit business, focused on bottom-line profits and shareholder value versus health care outcomes of patients. We now have health care decisions made for us by business people, based on how it affects their bottom-line.

recent report issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that medical debts account for a majority (52%) of debt collections actions that appear on consumer credit reports. An earlier Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 1 in 3 Americans struggle to pay medical bills, and that 70% who do so are insured.

The CFPB report confirms that medical debt frequently occurs among people with no other history of credit problems.  When it does, it can have serious and long range financial consequences. Referral of medical debts to collections damages a person’s credit rating significantly and for many years, limiting access to mortgages, car loans, and other consumer credit.  Health consequences are also possible; as the Kaiser report observed, once in debt, people may delay or forego other needed care to avoid incurring further unaffordable medical bills.

This is insane. We pay for expensive insurance that won’t cover the cost of our health care, so we go into debt while the health insurers continue to make outrageous profits.

Sounds like a monopoly to me. We are being ripped off. Big time.

So, what do we do about this out-of-control commercialization of health care?

Other countries have figured out this whole health care problem, but America still believes that capitalism and free enterprise is the only solution to any problem. Today’s health care industry is just another application of trickle-down economics; if the health insurers make more money, that money will eventually trickle-down to a more affordable and improved health care system for all. Well, we know all too well how trickle-down economics has succeeded in taking us back to the Gilded Age, by creating an incredibly wealthy and elitist upper class (1%) while everyone else are pushed down to fend for themselves.

I don’t know what the grand solution is, maybe single-payer, universal health care. However, I do know that we can’t continue with this same model of having bottom-line focused, for-profit health insurers making billions in profit by limiting access to health care to those that can’t afford it. Letting these companies get filthy rich off of people’s health is unconscionable.

Do we want to continue with this model that puts profits before the needs of the American people? Health care should not be a for-profit business model, it’s totally unacceptable to put a price on someone’s life and well-being. I believe if we take profit out of health care, we will have a system that works for the people.

America does not have a HEALTH CARE system, we have a WEALTH CARE system.

Sources:

  • Differing Notions of ‘Affordability’ | by Wendell Potter
  • Medical Debt Among Insured Consumers: The Role of Cost Sharing, Transparency, and Consumer Assistance | by Karen Pollitz
  • Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF.org