Cancer: To Test and Treat…or Not?

The conventional approach to cancer has long been one of “zero tolerance.” The medical establishment has sold the public on the necessity of “early detection and treatment” to prevent what is generally regarded as a horrible death. But this article from the Associated Press suggests that “catching cancer early isn’t always as important as we thought.” Does this mean that “peaceful co-existence” may be a viable option?

Many tests produce a high percentage of false positives that lead to additional (often invasive) testing and unnecessary treatments. On the basis of PSA levels in the blood, doctors have been telling me for 10 years that I should submit to biopsy of my prostate. In the absence of symptoms or further evidence, I’ve been unwilling to do that. On the other hand, I have friends who have died from prostate cancer. Here’s what the article has to say about that:

PSA tests for prostate cancer are a much tougher call. Last month, a government panel recommended an end to routine PSA screenings, a step further than other major medical groups that urge men to weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves. But the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found limited, if any, evidence that screening average men improves survival. That’s largely because so many men are diagnosed with slow-growing tumors that never would have killed them; still, they have treatments that can cause incontinence, impotence or even lead to death.

Each of us must weigh all the factors in deciding the appropriate course for them. I am no expert on medical and health matters but I have come to some conclusions that I live by. Doctors admit that our bodies quite commonly produce errant cells but the immune system is normally able to deal with them. When immune function is weakened or breaks down, then cancer can spread rapidly and cause great harm. To me this suggests that keeping my immune system healthy is the key to vitality, longevity and the avoidance of invasive diagnostics and treatments. My approach is to maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and rest, to avoid stress as much as possible and keep a positive attitude. Researchers have found a strong correlation between the incidence of aggressive cancers and what they call the “helpless, hopeless syndrome.”

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