Johns Hopkins Urology: A Valuable Resource for Prostate Cancer Information.

Look no further! Egret in Placida, Florida. BJ Gabrielsen photo.
Look no further! Egret in Placida, Florida. BJ Gabrielsen photo.

The Department of Urology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland has consistently been rated best (#1) in the annual survey published in U.S. News and World Report. Hopkins urologists provide an excellent source of prostate information via a number of publications. Recent examples are as follows.  The July 28th-Aug. 3rd issue of the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts contained an article describing new therapies for men with metastatic, castrate-resistant (hormone-refractory) prostate cancer. Recently approved drugs, which inhibit testosterone and its biological activity, include abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) and enzalutamide (Xtandi). These agents, in addition to the earlier-approved treatments Provenge and Jevtana, provide new options for men with advanced prostate cancer. The Aug. 4th-Aug. 10th issue featured a discussion on diet and prostate cancer. Regular intake of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli (containing the active compound sulforaphane) and cabbage, soy foods and lycopene-rich tomato products, have all been associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. In addition, pomegranate and its juice may slow prostate cancer progression. The same issue discussed the effect of diabetes and its association with aggressive prostate cancer.  The most recent weekly issue of the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts (Aug. 18th-24th) featured an article discussing possible help in reducing hot flashes, an undesirable side effect often experienced by men receiving androgen deprivation (hormonal) therapy. A reader can subscribe to automatically receive these Health Alerts electronically for specific conditions such as prostate cancer. Finally, a comprehensive treatise entitled “Prostate Cancer Outlook 2013” written by the Hopkins physicians describing the latest developments in their own specialties, is available for purchase as an invaluable reference.


Jesus, the Healer; Does He Promise to Heal?

In Matthew 14:14, Jesus saw a great multitude of people, had compassion on them and healed their sick. The Great Physician is able to heal. He created us and knows every mechanism in our body down to the most minute detail.  Sometimes He promises to immediately take away our problem when we ask, and in other times, in His love and all-knowing, He allows the ailment to remain. Seeking medical help is often His plan for us, but He also wants us to come before Him with our need, acknowledging His ultimate power and ability. The Bible is full of accounts describing the Lord healing  physical, spiritual and emotional sicknesses. Jesus also gave His disciples authority to heal in His name. As you read the Bible, notice how often God healed people and valued their faith. Jesus often healed to demonstrate His power as part of the God-head. When in need, ask for His help. He may grant your request immediately or His plan might be to bring greater good to you and glory to Himself down the road. The process also helps cultivate and grow our faith in His ultimate will. Either way, walking closely with Him is always the healthiest and wisest choice.

James 5:14-15 says “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”  Have you ever wondered why we see far fewer miracles today than in Biblical times? God has not changed nor has His power diminished. And our needs are no fewer than those of that day. Why then, do we witness less of His healing power in modern society? James 4:2-3 lists two reasons. “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” God’s power may also be hindered by a lack of faith. Because the people of Jesus’ hometown rejected Him, He did few miracles there (Matt. 13:57-58).  There is another reason which may be difficult to comprehend and accept. Sometime the Lord’s perfect and loving will is not for our health to be restored immediately-or ever in this life. He might have a lesson for us to learn that might require suffering so we can listen to His voice and understand. Because the Father knows the big picture that we are unable to see, He may allow the difficulty to remain. The apostle Paul accepted this. He asked God three times to remove what he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7). But he finally understood that the condition would continue and the Lord’s power would be made perfect through Paul’s weakness. God desires that you turn to Him as Lord and Healer. Pray with faith in Jesus’ name bringing your requests but also surrendering to His perfect will. “Not my will but Thine be done” as Jesus Himself prayed. Trust that He can do anything- and that what he does will be in your best interest for His glory. Our heavenly Father still does miracles today.

Adapted from In Touch Magazine, by Charles Stanley, Aug. 8-9, 2013.

PSA Velocity, Questions to Ask Your Doctor, Nanoparticle Drug Delivery and Xofigo Review and Video.

I come across numerous smaller articles of interest related to prostate cancer. Rather than summarizing them in separate blog posts, I’d like to send this short list of four. Hopefully, one or more will be of interest to you.

1) On June 5th, 2013, the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts published a short article entitled “What We Can Learn by Measuring PSA Velocity.” It addresses the role of the rate of PSA change in prostate cancer diagnostics, progression, treatment and outcomes.

2) The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) has published a free pamphlet entitled “Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Prostate Cancer.” The pamphlet also contains spaces to fill in the answers to such important questions. See the following link.

3) Xofigo (alpha-radin, radium-223 chloride) was approved in 2013 to treat men with metastatic prostate cancer which had spread to the bone.  Results from a recent study demonstrating improved survival and better quality of life were published in the New England Journal of Medicine with an accompanying video describing the drug. See the following link to the July 31st issue of the Prostate Cancer Foundation NewsPulse.

4) Nanoparticles are chemical species which can serve as a targeted delivery system for drugs, proteins and other therapeutics. The drug to be delivered is contained within the nanoparticle whose surface is then coated with targeting moieties such as antibodies. The overall result is the delivery of a specific drug directly to the cancer cells thereby allowing for higher localized doses and minimized systemic side effects. This type of delivery system for docetaxel (taxotere) is given as an example in a video and accompanying article from the July 31st Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) NewsPulse. Docetaxel is a chemotherapy used in metastatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients. While it is efficacious, it also can produce serious side effects. It is also limited in the amount of drug which can be administered intravenously. Therefore, nanoparticle delivery can be much more efficacious.


Fish Oil and Prostate Cancer; the Other Side of the Story.

I was watching my usual TV news channels when a story was presented citing a recent study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Reseach Center in Seattle and published on-line in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study results seemed to conclude that taking fish oil supplements or eating too much fatty fish, thereby producing higher serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids, may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.  Every TV news story included commentary from the news organization’s resident “medical expert” who unanimously concluded that they would now recommend limiting a man’s input of fish oil and fish itself even though health benefits from essential fats like the omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil and the omega-6  fatty acids from olive oil etc. are well known. However, the benefits of excessive omega-3 supplementation was now being called into question.  While fish oil does indeed have an anti-inflammatory effect, the study researchers could not offer a biological reason for this link with prostate cancer and called for more studies. The study analyzed levels of omega-3 fatty acids found to a larger degree in some fish in the blood levels of 834 men who had developed prostate cancer and compared these blood levels to 1,393 men with respect to age and race who had not developed cancer. Men who had the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids had a 43% increase in risk for prostate cancer and a 71% increase in risk for high-grade prostate cancer most likely to be fatal. The highest blood levels of three omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DPA and DHA) were consistent with taking fish oil supplements or eating at least three servings of fish per week. The men with the highest levels were the most likely to eventually be diagnosed with prostate cancer. These studies are far from clear and a biological basis for these findings is being sought. Earlier, similar studies in a large trial called SELECT had found that taking vitamin E supplements actually increased the risk for prostate cancer. There is another side to this story which did not appear on my TV news channels. The Prostate Cancer Research Institute (PCRI) recently summarized the comments of three well-known prostate cancer researcher-physicians who unanimously differed in their interpretation of these study results. The physicians include Dr. Anthony D’Amico of Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Dr. Mark Moyad and Dr. Charles Myers. The accompanying link also contains a summary of the original study as well as the physicians’ specific comments and critiques. I suggest that you read their comments, and discuss them with your personal prostate cancer physician before making any changes in your dietary and nutritional habits. The opposing viewpoints were not presented on any of the major news channels to my viewing knowledge.