Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Choosing — and sticking with — active surveillance: A patient’s story

Patient Jeffrey Caruso explains why he decided to pursue active surveillance and under what circumstances he would opt to treat his prostate cancer.

Technology and decision-making: A patient’s story

How endorectal MRI helped one couple choose the “best” treatment for prostate cancer.

A patient’s story: Why one man chose robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy

After talking with numerous medical professionals and asking friends about how they treated their prostate cancers, financial services executive Steve Henley opted to have a robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy. In this interview, he explains what factors went into that decision.

Drug combo better at easing BPH than either drug alone

Study shows that taking both dutasteride (Avodart) and tamsulosin (Flomax) might be more effective at easing symptoms than taking just one.

Continuous vs. intermittent hormone therapy (IHT): No survival difference

Given the beneficial effects and the lack of a survival difference, intermittent hormone therapy may be a preferred regimen for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Use caution with selenium supplements

High levels of selenium in the blood are associated with a slightly higher-than-normal risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Hormone therapy: How long should it last?

A European study finds that mortality is higher among men who pursue hormone therapy for just six months. But the study was conducted in men with relatively large tumors, not small, early-stage tumors, the kind found most often in American men.

Midlife PSA tests may predict prostate cancer diagnosis up to 25 years later

According to a 2007 Swedish study, a PSA test done between the ages of 44 and 50 may predict whether or not a man will develop prostate cancer later in life.

Initial PSA tests can’t distinguish lethal prostate cancers

In a study of over 250 men, Swedish researchers found that neither the initial PSA level nor its rate of increase in a two-year period predicted which men had lethal versus indolent cancers.

PSA screening: What doctors tell their patients

Fifteen Harvard-affiliated physicians discuss their recommendations for PSA screening.

Task force says no to PSA screening for older men

The U.S. Preventive Services task force announced in 2008 that doctors should stop testing men who are 75 or older. The panel also concluded that the benefit of screening in younger men is uncertain.

What does a fluctuating PSA mean?

If your PSA has varied greatly and biopsies have been negative, you might want to try a different testing regimen.

Can nerve grafts restore erectile function?

Studies have shown that some men who have their neurovascular bundles removed during a radical prostatectomy may regain erectile function with nerve grafts. But a patient’s best bet for preserving erectile function is to find an experienced surgeon.

Treating prostatitis: Any cause for optimism?

Standard treatments for prostatitis, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and alpha blockers, are often ineffective. Patients might find relief by using drugs currently in clinical trials or nontraditional therapies such as biofeedback and myofascial trigger release, a form of massage.

Prostate cancer risk in African Americans

African American men have, by far, the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world. They are also more than twice as likely to die of the disease as white American men. No single factor — diet, obesity, socioeconomic status, or biology — accounts for the disparity, and the search for an explanation continues.

Blood calcium levels may be linked to prostate cancer death

Research finds that men with high blood calcium levels are more likely to develop fatal prostate cancer than men with lower blood calcium levels.

No “home run” for proton radiation–at least not yet

A clinical trial of proton radiation for early prostate cancer found that the treatment is safe and well-tolerated by patients, but probably no better than other, less expensive forms of radiation.

What is the difference between PSA and free PSA?

Kevin R. Loughlin, M.D., M.B.A., director of Urologic Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explains how these tests differ.

Diabetes inversely related to prostate cancer risk

Two studies conclude that men with diabetes have a lower risk of prostate cancer than nondiabetics, suggesting a potential biological link between the conditions.

Second BPH drug reduces prostate cancer risk

Like finasteride (Proscar), dutasteride (Avodart), a drug used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Safety concerns prompt labeling change on testosterone gels

Manufacturers of testosterone gel products must add a boxed warning on the products about adverse effects.

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