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Dodd will have surgery for prostate cancer; some men opt against it *

July 31, 2009 |  1:55 pm

Dodd So Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) has been diagnosed with what he described as an early stage of prostate cancer. He adds that he'll soon undergo surgery. He announced the diagnosis and treatment today at a news conference and on his website.

Dodd and his doctor, also quoted on the website, seem confident in the choice of surgery. Some men are less sure.

An earlier L.A. Times article details the treatment options available to men -- and how difficult it can be to decide.

"It was, many physicians would say, the right thing for a man of 53 to do. So Larry Cano had a prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test," the article begins. "'It was 5.3,' says Cano, a film producer from Newport Beach. 'They say anything over 4 is noteworthy.' The noteworthy result, followed by a positive biopsy, sent Cano pinballing from surgeon to radiologist and back with what he believes, three years later, was an exaggerated sense of urgency."

An accompanying article adds: "Prostate cancer is riddled with indignities that cut to the core of manhood. It begins with a doctor's request to bend over for a digital rectal exam and can end in impotence and diapers. Very little in between is clear-cut." * 

Meanwhile, here's a recent take on prostate cancer screenings in general from H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the author of "Should I Be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not and Here's Why."

 "I probably have prostate cancer," Welch writes. "There's no need to feel sorry for me -- so do about half the men my age (I'm in my mid-50s). We doctors have learned this from microscopic examinations of the prostates of men who are autopsied following an accidental death. And the older men get, the more likely it is that they have prostate cancer. Autopsies of men in their 70s have found that about 80% of them had the disease."

And here's more on prostate cancer treatment from the National Cancer Institute. The four types of standard treatment are watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.

( * An earlier version of this post quoted an error in a previously published story. That story had said that the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Assn. recommend a rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen, or PSA, blood test every year for men older than 50, and five to 10 years sooner for African Americans and men with a family history of the disease. The groups, however, don't recommend routine screening; they recommend that the screening be discussed as an option.)

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, speak at a news conference at his office in Hartford, Conn., on Friday.

Credit: Jessica Hill / Associated Press