Views from the “other side”

An Introductory Editorial Comment

Many of the problems faced by newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients are faced by male physicians too. They are also susceptible to prostate cancer! However, the attached article is unusual in the extreme, and for several reasons.

In the first place, Views from the “Other Side” was written by two well known urologists for the benefit of their peers. They describe, in considerable detail, their own very personal experiences with prostate cancer — not the experiences of their patients. In this case they are the patients. Their original goal in writing the article was to give their colleagues a greater understanding of what it is like to be on the “receiving end” of a diagnosis of prostate cancer. One of them has been in complete remission ever since his surgery; the other has progressive disease.

On its own this would make this article interesting. However, these are two of the most authoritative urologic oncologists living in America today. They have dedicated the majority of their working lives to the treatment of prostate cancer and to clinical research designed to improve its management. There can be few physicians alive today who have greater and more detailed clinical experience of this disease. And yet they both admit in this article that they went through most of the same difficulties in their decision processes as the normal patient — and became more understanding of their patients’ problems as a consequence. Dr. Schellhammer was appointed President of the American Urological Association for 2007-08.

We have both been acquainted with Drs Schellhammer and Lange for nearly 20 years. We have heard them lecture. We have read many of their published articles. One of us has organized educational activities at which they were both kind enough to be members of the faculty. The other of us has collaborated with Dr. Schellhammer on the development of guidelines for the urology community. We had known that one of them had prostate cancer for several years, but not about the other.

What they have managed to do in this article is capture, for their urologist colleagues — but also for the informed lay person — just how little all of our scientific knowledge helps us to make good decisions in the face of “maleness.” Many of the problems they identify in this article will be crucial to prostate cancer research and education for years to come.

In our opinions this article should be required reading, not only for all those who diagnose and treat prostate cancer, but also for anyone who seeks to assist and help those facing such a diagnosis.

We all owe a debt to Drs. Lange and Schellhammer for their willngness to “come out” about the clinical details of their very personal experiences and combine that personal experience with their clinical knowledge for the benefit of doctors and patients yet to come.

E. Michael D. (“Mike”) Scott and Arnon Krongrad, MD
The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink

Content last revised and updated, May 6, 2008
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