Nature Reviews Cancer, advance online publication, Published online 11 February 2010 | doi:10.1038/nrc2795
Opinion: Breast and prostate cancer: more similar than different
Gail P. Risbridger1, Ian D. Davis2, Stephen N. Birrell3 & Wayne D. Tilley3
Breast cancer and prostate cancer are the two most common invasive cancers in women and men, respectively. Although these cancers arise in organs that are different in terms of anatomy and physiological function both organs require gonadal steroids for their development, and tumours that arise from them are typically hormone-dependent and have remarkable underlying biological similarities. Many of the recent advances in understanding the pathophysiology of breast and prostate cancers have paved the way for new treatment strategies. In this Opinion article we discuss some key issues common to breast and prostate cancer and how new insights into these cancers could improve patient outcomes.
In addition to the points made in a medical perspective in the story above, I see similarities as well in the emotional consequences of both diseases. It is well known that the journey of the women with breast cancer is tough. Just the mention of it conjures thoughts and visions of the disfiguring surgery, potential for chemotherapy and the subsequent loss of hair. I think everybody has a feel of the magnitude of the emotional rollercoaster that the woman and family of the woman must endure.
For the male and prostate cancer, all the treatments can adversely affect how you urinate and your sexual function. Both issues strike right at the heart of the man’s ego, pride, and “malehood.” But here’s the thing, you can’t see the prostate, you can’t see the erection problem, you can’t see the diapers and worse yet most men will not discuss those issues with his loved ones. For most, they carry the weight of the aftermath of the treatment not only silently but… invisibly. I asked a female coworker why there was not more national attention and fundraisers for men like there is for women. “Men won’t walk”, she said. All the reader has to do is join a prostate cancer support group discussion board and you’ll see the extent of the issues out there. My hat is off to the prostate cancer male. I think they go through a lot. I am noting that there are more “women for prostate cancer” type organizations being formed. It may be that this is what it will take to the get the prostate “the rodney dangerfield of organs” on the same plane as the breast.
What you can’t see won’t hurt you-or as it pertains to the prostate-can it?