Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Hormones for Prostate Cancer 

TO: Hon. Gary Mar, Minister of Health and Wellness

Is it true that the Alberta Cancer Board or someone in your department has signed an exclusive contract with a drug firm to use one hormone for the treatment of prostate cancer?

There are several different grades of prostate cancer and different treatments for each; it is not a case of one size fits all. The specialists in consultation with their patients should be able to choose the most appropriate drug or combination of drugs, To economize by eliminating choice is neither democratic nor in the best interests of patients.

After I was diagnosed with prostate cancer I went on a clinical trial that use two hormones for three months to check the effect on my cancer. My urologist, Dr, Chetner, told me the combination had reduced the size of the cancer and the prostate by the time I had my surgery. Will that therapy be available for patients awaiting radiation or surgery?

Many patients with advanced prostate cancer can go off hormones for up to a year or more until their PSA counts become elevated and they have to resume this therapy. Such intermittent use might be an effective way to economize and give patients some relief from side effects. Such a procedure is recommended in the book “New Guidelines for Surviving Prostate Cancer” by Lewis & Berger, 1997. Combination hormone therapy is also discussed frequently in this book.

Another concern I have as a cancer patient is that when Premier Klein took office, there were seven interns in urology in Edmonton; now there are only three. These specialists do the surgery for prostate cancer. Further, the number of oncologists who look after radiation has also declined resulting in longer waits for new patients

Prostate cancer is one of the three most common types of cancer in Canada. Alberta’s rate of incidence and death from this disease is well above the Canadian average. I have challenged three Health Ministers and Premier Klein to do something about it. It seems, however, that far from improving, the situation is only deteriorating. Now, apparently, we are to losing any choice in the type of hormones to be used in our treatment. This does not bode well for the survival rate from PCa in the future.


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