Prostate Problems

IMPORTANT NOTE - I have no medical training and make no claim to it. What follows is personal experience, recollections, etc. of my brush with Prostate Cancer. Any explanations or definitions or opinions given here are only what my best understanding of them are and not to be relied upon as advice nor as even accurate. I have no medical or nutritional training, nor do I pretend to any.)

(Note when reading this, it's worthwhile keeping in mind the timeline.)

Last September 2002, after a long time (well more than a year, maybe two, I'd guess) of increasingly uncomfortable and worsening urination problems (frequency, *URGENCY* 1 ), I went to a Urologist. You all know the drill, several blood tests over a month or two - high/rising PSA 2a (s)- 5-6+ area, digital exam(s), ("56%" chance of cancer with all these indicators"), biopsy 2b (in November), diagnosed Benign HyperPlasia 3 (got really lucky there), followup exam 2-3 months later (February)- no change except PSA higher (over 6). "We'll just have to keep an eye on it. Come back in 3 months"

In early June 2003 the digital exam took an EXCEPTIONALLY long time and getting really uncomfortable I was just about to say something when he pulled his finger out. "Mr. Lovgren, I don't know how to tell you this but your prostate is perfectly normal. In size and in smoothness. No need to come back for another year."

I was stunned. And from his tone and attitude, he seemed to be too. Some small talk, I mentioned how much I had changed or added to my diet which he *seemed* to dismiss. Really I was not prepared to go further asking more questions, I was so taken aback.

Afterwards, I realized just how much the urination problem really had subsided. The immediate urgency had pretty much disappeared (not unusual to be able to wait 15 minutes to half hour, or even more, after first urge if I wanted to now). No more having to stop in the car, urinating in a bottle on even short 15-20 minute trips). Sleeping through the night, *maybe* only having to get up once, instead of the 5-6 times like before.

I often drink a lot of water (not gallons but probably a couple quarts in a day) 4 . After the November biopsy, in February 2003 with a pad/pen in the bathroom I kept track of how many times I went. It was not unusual to have to go 4 or 5 times in a hour over a 3 day period if I was drinking a lot of water. Even once an hour or more during the night, despite not drinking much water before going to bed. I don't have to to recount to anyone with prostate problems what it's like. Going out anywhere was an adventure that had to be well "planned" in advance. - Nothing to drink for hours beforehand, were bathrooms readily available and convenient?, nothing to drink while out, ....

I really hadn't noticed the changes (improvements) in urination patterns as they were gradual, just like the onset of this whole business (which I suspect was taking place over a couple years).

At this point, it's important, even critical, to understand this Uro is a (maybe even "the") top man in the area where I live (within 75 miles or so of NYC). He's in a practice with 4 other uros and I've known him (and of him) for over 30 years. He took care of my father. His father was a uro. This is a doctor (surgeon) of considerable experience, wide background, impeccable integrity and untarnished reputation within and outside the medical community. Any chances of his making a misdiagnosis of my condition from the start is, in my well considered opinion, nil.

Okay, what had happened? In December 2002 (week or so after biopsy results) my wife and I had gone to see a talk on nutrition (sponsored by a drug company and the American Cancer Society) given by Dr. Gary Mowat(?). Len Dawson (Football Hall of Fame Quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs) was also a speaker (about being a PC survivor). Anyway, Dr. Mowat was VERY interesting (Dawson wasn't so bad either). My wife took something like 12 pages of notes, an unusual occurrence in itself. He talked about nutritional effects on the body of various foods, vitamins, etc. and what the literature shows.

Three things that stuck out in my mind were licopene (in tomatoes and other red fruits), orange juice and flax seed. So, of course, I started mugging up on them. Always liked tomatoes and just luckily we had a lot in the freezer (we had gotten from a farmer friend the previous summer) my wife had made sauces with a food processor.

Flax seed we found in a health food store. (Flax seed is about the size of fine pencil leads maybe a half inch long.) Sprinkled it on top of salads and sandwiches, probably between a teaspoon and a tablespoon a day (when I can remember). Ain't a whole lot of flavor to it, but it does add texture.

Okay, all well and good. Couple or three months eating a lot of the tomatoes, flax, oj, vitamins, ... and I don't notice any real improvement. There may have been some since I did the 3 day measurement in February 2003 but it was not marked. Sometime in April (as I recall), we were in our local Price Club (CostCO) and I noticed Flax Seed Oil Gels (NatureMade - 200 gels in bottle) for $10. Picked up a bottle. Couldn't hurt, right?

Took one gel a day along with other pills 5 . Never really noticed any improvement in urination problems but obviously there was. I just didn't fully realize it until the prostate exam on June 1, 2003. Urination is not like something one constantly thinks about. Just something that has to be taken care of when the urge arises. (What WAS in my mind, of course, was "When is this going to be cancer?").

Later in June 2003 I wote a letter to the doctor (as my next exam wasn't scheduled until June 2004) asking the following four questions (He responded in July):

  • Question 1: Is it an uncommon thing for the prostate to return to normal, as it did in my case? If so, how unusual?

    Doctor's Response: "... As far as common or uncommon for the prostate to improve, usually it requires some kind of theapy to improve. However there are a lot of other factors which are unknown such as herbal therapies, emotional stress, and psychological factors that cannot be quantified. Therefore in answer to your question yes it is normal. As far as it being common, it is just not rare. It is mildly common if I can use that phrase."

    Q2: Is it uncommon for the urination problems I experienced to go away? If so, how unusual?

    Response: " ... the urinary problems similar to the above issue, usually related to the prostate which is under the control of hormonal factors, extrinsic factors such as diet, medications, herbs and emotions."

    Q3: If my prostate had remained enlarged, would that have increased the likelihood of future prostate cancer? And if so, how much?

    Response: "... the statistics relating to the size of the prostate related to cancer are really the same through all of the degrees, from small to large prostate. Therefore that should not be an issue."

    Q4: Is it very likely there was some other agent other than diet involved in the return to normal of the prostate?

    Response: "... diet is one of many factors involved with sensitivity of the prostate."

(End of letter)