Evaluation of Books About Prostate Cancer

The following, listed alphabetically by author, are assessments of forty-seven books about prostate cancer published in the past seven years (asterisks indicate those I have found most valuable). Also included are a few volumes published earlier that are of special interest. Books on prostate health in general are not included.

Alterowitz, Ralph, and Alterowitz, Barbara. The Lovin' Ain't Over: The Couples Guide to Better Sex After Prostate Disease. Westbury, N.Y.: Health Education Literary Publisher, 1999. Written by a man who has had prostate cancer and his wife, this book focuses exclusively on impotence. It explains the complexities of erections and orgasms and outlines options for couples faced with varying degrees of impotence.

Baggish, Jeff. Making the Prostate Therapy Decision (rev. ed.). Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1998. Originally published in 1995, this book was said to have been revised in 1998. The changes, however, appear to have been minimal and the book is now outdated.

Barrett, David M. (ed.) Mayo Clinic on Prostate Health. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Clinic, 2000. This slim (166-page) book is inadequate in most respects. Only half of it is about prostate cancer: a little bit about everything, not enough about anything. Its priorities are difficult to understand. For example, it allocates only four pages to radiation beam and seed therapy combined, but eight pages to complementary treatments. No references or notes are given.

Bodai, Ernie. I Flunked my PSA! Severna Park, Md.: B2Z Publishing, 2002. This thin volume was written by a surgeon who had prostate cancer. Although advertised as a ''prostate cancer primer,'' it provides too little information on most subjects. Reading the book is rather like being served a small appetizer when you are hungry for the main course.

Bostwick, David G.; Crawford, E. David; Higano, Celestia S.; and Roach, Mark (eds.). American Cancer Society's Complete Guide to Prostate Cancer. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2005. This revised and updated edition of the American Cancer Society's 1996 book is solid as far as it goes. However, many men will want more detailed data. For instance, no five-, ten-, or fifteen-year survival rate figures appear; little mention is made of treatment studies that compare one type of treatment with another; and no numbered references allow one to follow up on any given fact or figure. Thus, the book lacks specific information to help a man choose which treatment is best for him. These shortcomings may be an inevitable consequence of having sixty-two authors and trying not to offend anyone.

*Broyard, Anatole. Intoxicated by My Illness. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. This book is a little classic. The author was a book critic for the New York Times when, at age 69, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He died fourteen months later, after having written the first four essays in this book. He yearned for ''an untamed, beautiful death'' and suggested that ''we should have a competition in dying, sort of like Halloween costumes. . . . Let's give a prize for the most beautiful death. We can call it heaven.''

Bubley, Glenn J., with Conkling, Winifred. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Prostate Cancer: The Breakthrough Information and Treatments That Can Help Save Your Life. New York: Warner Books, 2005. This book was written by a Boston oncologist whose practice includes many patients with recurrent prostate cancer. For such men it is a useful book, since it contains excellent chapters on experimental treatments and clinical trials. The chapters on natural remedies (herbs, vitamins, and minerals), dietary factors, and support groups are also recommended. The author summarizes traditional treatments in an unbiased but somewhat sketchy manner. The weakest element is the histrionic title—the book is, in fact, much better than its cover would suggest.

Centeno, Arthur, and Onik, Gary. Prostate Cancer: A Patient's

Guide to Treatment. Omaha: Addicus Books, 2004. Written by a urologist and a radiologist, both of whom specialize in prostate cancer, this book too offers a little of everything but not enough of anything. It tends to minimize the seriousness of side effects and complications of the various treatments. It is sympathetic to cryosurgery; Onik was one of the developers of this treatment.

Connell, Will. Prostate Cancer Treatment Options: A Guide to the Basics. Grass Valley, Calif.: Edconco Press, 1997. Written by an engineer who had prostate cancer, this book's strength is that it helps men rationally think through their treatment options and decide what is best for them. Its weakness is that it is somewhat out of date.

Dattoli, Michael; Cash, Jennifer; and Kaltenbach, Don. Surviving Prostate Cancer Without Surgery. Sarasota, Fla.: Seneca Press, 2005. This book is a companion to Prostate Cancer: A Survivor's Guide, by Kaltenbach and Richards. Both are publications of Dattoli's cancer treatment center, which specializes in radiation seed therapy combined with beam radiation. As such, the authors extol the merits of brachytherapy (''Side effects with [seed] implants are usually mild and reversible'') and denigrate surgical treatment.

*Dorso, Michael A. Seeds of Hope: A Physician's Personal Triumph over Prostate Cancer. Battle Creek, Mich.: Acorn Publishing, 2000. This book was written by an emergency room physician who, at age 54, had a Gleason 6 prostate cancer and elected to use a combination of hormones, beam radiation, and radiation seed therapy. He writes honestly and well about his decision-making steps, the advantages and disadvantages of his approach, and the effects of the cancer on his wife and himself. It is an especially useful book for men considering radiation seed therapy.

Ellsworth, Pamela; Heaney, John; and Gill, Cliff. 100 Questions and Answers About Prostate Cancer. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett, 2003. Written by two urologists and a man who chose surgery for his prostate cancer, this book includes useful information but is oddly organized. The question-and-answer format makes it difficult to find the information you want and leads to a great deal of repetition. Much of the information is presented in charts that I personally found sterile and unsatisfying.

Fisher, William L. How To Fight Prostate Cancer and Win. Baltimore: Agora Books, 2001. This book is mistitled and includes rela tively little about prostate cancer. It covers benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate health in general, emphasizing herbal and dietary approaches.

*Gottlieb, Bert, and Mawn, Thomas J. The Men's Club: How To Lose Your Prostate Without Losing Your Sense of Humor. Oxnard, Calif.: Pathfinder Publishing, 1999. This is an entertaining account of a radical prostatectomy followed by ongoing incontinence and implantation of an artificial sphincter. Injecting humor into such a sequence is a major challenge, but the authors succeed. Gottlieb was a 61-year-old advertising executive when diagnosed with a Gleason 5 cancer, and alternate sections are written by Mawn, his urologist. Patient and physician developed a close and mutually affectionate relationship. Gottlieb's wife plays a significant role in getting her husband through the ordeal with both love and levity. She even gets Mawn to promise that he will have no more than one glass of wine the night before the surgery.

Gray, Ross. Prostate Tales: Men's Experiences with Prostate Cancer. Harriman, Tenn.: Men's Studies Press, 2003. This collection of short stories about men with prostate cancer is similar to those to be found on many prostate cancer websites. These, however, have been edited by the author, a researcher in Toronto, and are much more readable. The author says that he ''wanted to make the struggles and triumphs of men with prostate cancer more visible to men themselves and more understandable to others''; he has succeeded in doing so.

Grimm, Peter D.; Blasko, John C.; and Sylvester, John E. (eds). The Prostate Cancer Treatment Book. New York: McGraw Hill, 2004. As an up-to-date guide to treatment options, this book is useful. It focuses especially on radiation seed therapy and work at the Seattle Prostate Institute, the home of the editors. As such, it has a cheerleader tone, with an implication that everything important is done at their headquarters. Each chapter is multiauthored by a different group, so the writing styles vary considerably. The book includes no information about causes, focusing exclusively on treatments.

Handy, Richard Y. Prostate Cancer: Treatment and Recovery. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996 (originally published in 1988). Diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 52, the author had a prostatectomy followed by radiation that left him permanently impotent. His account focuses on the effects of the impotence on his wife and himself, and he recounts with ruthless honesty the indignities, depressions, and vulnerabilities that followed. His preoccupation with his penis is a Freudian's delight, and men who suffer impotence as a consequence of their cancer will find the book useful.

Hennefent, Bradley. Surviving Prostate Cancer Without Surgery. Roseville, Ill.: Roseville Books, 2005. This is an odd book in that its main message is a diatribe against surgical treatment. For example: ''Consider the magnified humiliation of radical prostatectomy patients. Not only has their money been taken, but their penises have been crippled and their sex lives have been largely destroyed.'' The author, an emergency room physician, was inspired to write the book by his uncle, who ''died from his prostate cancer treatment.''

*Hersh, Stephen P. Beyond Miracles: Living with Cancer. Santa Ana, Calif.: Seven Locks Press, 2000. Of the many books aimed at survivors of cancer in general, not just prostate cancer, this is among the best. Written by a psychiatrist and specialist in cancer patients and pain management, it encourages patients to take an active role both in managing their cancer treatment plan and in managing stress.

Hitchcock, Robert. Love, Sex, and PSA. San Diego: TMC Press, 1997. This is a brief, light book written by a 61-year-old playwright who got prostate cancer (Gleason 5, PSA 7.7). It includes a straight-talking and sometimes humorous section on impotence and its possible treatments (the author used self-injections successfully).

Horowitz, David. The End of Time. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2005. Horowitz was 62 years old when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (Gleason 7, PSA 6.0) and had a radical prostatectomy and post-op radiation. This book covers very little about his cancer but rather is a series of meditations on life, death, and love. It is nicely written but of limited value to men looking for information.

Howe, Desiree Lyon, His Prostate and Me. Houston: Winedale Publishing, 2002. Written in a chatty style by the wife of a man with prostate cancer, the book, as the title suggests, is aimed at wives. It starts slowly, but the second half includes an extensive and useful account of how Howe coped with her husband's postsurgical incontinence and impotence. For women confronted with these situations, the book will be helpful.

Kaltenbach, Don, with Richards, Tom. Prostate Cancer: A Survivor's Guide. Sarasota, Fla.: Seneca House Press, 2003 (originally published in 1996). The author, who wrote this book with the help of a professional writer, was a lawyer who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his early 40s. He chose radiation seed therapy, and the book is strongly biased toward this treatment. Kaltenbach, in fact, now works for a surgical group specializing in this treatment, so the text has some of the flavor of an advertisement. The most useful part is a section on costs and insurance coverage of prostate cancer treatment.

Klein, Eric A.; Jamnicky, Leah; and Nam, Robert. So You're Having Prostate Surgery. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley, 2003. Written by two urologists and a urology nurse, this slim volume is targeted at men who have elected to have surgery. Thus, it is surprising that a third of the book covers other issues. It has a folksy style (''We know—you're tough and can handle a lot''). The pages are printed in green on white, which may appeal if you are Irish. Overall, moderately helpful but not essential reading.

*Korda, Michael. Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer. New York: Vintage Books, 1996. This is a widely read account of the author's radical prostatectomy. He was a 61-year-old publishing executive with prostate cancer (Gleason 6, PSA 22), for which he elected surgery. The author is brutally honest in detailing his problems and reactions, and when the book was originally published, it was one of the first such books available. Korda had major post-op problems with incontinence and thus makes prostatectomy sound worse than many other men have reported. Still, the text contains much that is helpful.

*Lange, Paul H., and Adamec, Christine. Prostate Cancer for Dummies. New York: John Wiley, 2003. Written by a well-known urologist who himself had prostate cancer and a medical writer whose husband had prostate cancer, this is one of the most widely read books. It is user friendly, with a detailed (ten-page) table of contents, lots of boxes, and icons indicating technical material that can be skipped.

Lewis, James. The Herbal Remedy for Prostate Cancer. Westbury, N.Y.: Health Education Literary Publisher, 1999. This book is essentially a 200-page advertisement for PC-SPES, an herbal remedy promoted for use in prostate cancer. Since PC-SPES was subsequently taken off the market by the Food and Drug Administration because it had been adulterated with dangerous medications, the information in this book is now moot.

Lintzenich, Joseph W. Oh No, Not Me. San Jose, Calif.: Writers

Club Press, 2001. The author was a 55-year-old pilot in 1992 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and subsequently had surgery. This is his account—pleasant and chatty, but somewhat long-winded. Readers are not really interested in how the author names his dogs or this level of detail: ''John blew the horn at 2:35 and Pat handed me my coat and I was out the door.'' In its favor, the author provides the most detailed account available of his days immediately after surgery. He deals frankly with his incontinence and impotence, both of which were resolved; as such, the book is a counterpoint to Korda's Man to Man.

Loo, Marcus H., and Betancourt, Marian. The Prostate Cancer Source Book. New York: John Wiley, 1998. This is a practical and well-written summary of treatment options for prostate cancer, emphasizing surgery. It is especially worthwhile on little details that most books overlook, such as recommending that you bring a CD player to the hospital for your stay and, if possible, schedule your surgery as the first case in the morning so that you won't have to wait. Unfortunately, the work is now out of date on many treatment issues.

*Marks, Sheldon. Prostate and Cancer: A Family Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Survival (3rd ed.). New York: Perseus, 2003. Originally published in 1995, this is one of the best books available on prostate cancer. It is user friendly, with forty chapters in question-and-answer format and a helpful index. Like most books written by urologists, it primarily covers treatment issues and includes little on causes (except nutrition), research, and other issues.

Martin, William. My Prostate and Me. New York: Cadell and Davies, 1994. This account of prostate cancer was written by a sociology professor in his 40s. With a Gleason score of 7 and a PSA of 8, he elected to have a radical prostatectomy. His account is useful but rather long-winded and would have benefited from a firm editor.

McClure, Mark W. Smart Medicine for a Healthy Prostate. New York: Avery Penguin Putnam, 2001. Written by a urologist who supports complementary and holistic medicine, only one third of this book is about prostate cancer. It covers in detail diet, vitamins, herbs, and lifestyle changes that some men have found helpful.

Neider, Charles. Adam's Burden: An Explorer's Personal Odyssey Through Prostate Cancer. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 2001. The author, an adventurer and writer, was diagnosed with prostate can cer (Gleason 6, PSA 16) at age 78 and died from it at age 86. The diary account of his beam radiation treatment may be useful for men considering this treatment. The book could have used a thorough editing, as most readers may not be interested in what the weather was each day, what the author was reading, and the like.

Newton, Audrey Currie. Living with Prostate Cancer. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1996. Written by his wife, this book tells of a Canadian man who at age 59 was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes. With radiation treatments and hormone suppression, he lived ten more years. Two years after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. His personal story is interspersed with chapters of factual material, now outdated, about prostate cancer.

Nixon, Daniel W., and Gomez, Max. The Prostate Health Program: A Guide to Preventing and Controlling Prostate Cancer. New York: Free Press, 2004. This book was written by a physician who is president of the Institute of Cancer Prevention and by a science reporter. As one might surmise, the majority of the book focuses on healthy diets and lifestyles. It has a worthwhile chapter on alternative treatments for prostate cancer but is comparatively weak on standard treatments and their complications.

Osterling, Joseph E., and Moyad, Mark A. The ABCs of Prostate Cancer: The Book That Could Save Your Life. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 1997. Written by a urologist whose father died of prostate cancer and a public health educator, this widely read book is now out-of-date. It has many strengths, including testimonials by famous and not-so-famous people who have had prostate cancer. However, it is cumbersome and somewhat repetitious—and a pharmaceutical company logo on the back raises questions about objectivity.

Perlman, Gerald, and Drescher, Jack (eds.). A Gay Man's Guide to Prostate Cancer. Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth Press, 2005. This book is essential reading for gay men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. The series of stories written by gay men of varying ages and professions includes a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, economist, and urologist. All of them frankly discuss gay concerns that bear on their diagnosis, including concurrent AIDS and their sexuality. Many of the authors have also been involved in Malecare, Inc., a nonprofit support group (see www.malecare.com).

Pienta, Kenneth J., and Moyad, Mark A. Prostate Cancer from A to Z. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Media Group, 2004. This uneven book provides reasonably full information on some subjects (PSA interpretation, hormone treatment) but bare bones on other subjects (surgery, radiation treatment). It oversimplifies survival statistics and includes no references for men who want to delve in more detail. The book also provides no perspective on the relative importance of many subjects. For example, shark cartilage, with no evidence that it is useful in prostate cancer, is listed alongside lycopene, for which evidence of its utility does exist.

Pilgrim, Aubrey. A Revolutionary Approach to Prostate Cancer. Pittsburgh: SterlingHouse, 1997. Written by a chiropractor who had prostate cancer, this book has a chatty style but is somewhat disorganized. The type is very small and there are few visuals. Like most prostate books, it focuses almost exclusively on diagnosis and treatment. Its special strengths are an interesting chapter on ''quackery'' and a lengthy list of resources.

Prochnik, Leon. You Can't Make Love if You're Dead. Los Angeles: Ari Press, 2000. Written by a Hollywood screenplay writer with prostate cancer (Gleason 6, PSA 11), this brief book recounts his search for the right treatment. Predictably, each doctor he consulted suggested a different course. His ultimate advice came from his aunt, who recommended surgery, her reasoning later being used as the title of the book.

Ryan, Cornelius, and Ryan, Kathryn Morgan. A Private Battle. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979. Cornelius Ryan was a successful writer when, at age 50, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The result is this book written by Ryan and his wife, also a writer, about the subsequent four years until he died. The events took place from 1970 to 1974, and what is striking is how different, and yet how much the same, everything is. We forget the far greater stigma surrounding cancer thirty-five years ago; the Ryans initially kept the diagnosis a secret from even their closest friends. On the other hand, each urologist Ryan consulted urged a different course of treatment, similar to the situation many men encounter today. During his battle with cancer, Ryan wrote A Bridge Too Far, which, at the time of his death, was second on the nationwide best-seller list. Ryan's editor for that book was Michael Korda, who, two decades later, would write a book about his own prostate cancer.

*Scardino, Peter T., and Kelman, Judith. Dr. Peter Scardino's Prostate Book: The Complete Guide to Overcoming Prostate Cancer, Prostatitis, and BPH. New York: Avery, 2005. With the retirement of Patrick Walsh as the de facto dean of American prostate cancer, Peter Scar-dino appears to be applying to assume that role. The similar book titles, the cowriting of both books with professional writers, and many allusions to the treatment superiority of Scardino's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York over Walsh's Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore and other centers all suggest a usurper to the prostate cancer throne. What the two books share is a strong bias toward surgery as the best treatment for most men. That being said, there is much valuable information in the Scardino book plus a useful glossary and index, and the information is up-to-date as of late 2004. The shortcomings include weak sections on causes, hormone treatment, and resources, and few personal stories. Although well written, there is much duplication of information, which contributes to its almost five-hundred-page bulk—yet another feature it shares with the Walsh and Worthington book.

Strum, Stephen B., and Pogliano, Donna. A Primer on Prostate Cancer: The Empowered Patient's Guide. Hollywood, Fla.: Life Extension Foundation, 2002. This visually appealing book has pictures, diagrams, and even some multicolor text. Strum is an oncologist and a pioneer in hormone therapy. The book is almost exclusively devoted to diagnosis and treatment and in parts is quite technical. Publication was partially funded by the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, cofounded by the senior author, and the book appears to be biased toward radiation and hormone therapy.

Wainrib, Barbara, and Haber, Sandra. Men, Women, and Prostate Cancer. Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger, 2000. This is a modestly updated edition of a 1996 book, Prostate Cancer: A Guide for Women and the Men They Love. It is written by two female psychologists who previously published a book on breast cancer. Aimed at the wives of men affected with prostate cancer, it is especially heavy on emotional issues and staying psychologically healthy. The best chapter has suggestions for responding to a man's impotence.

*Walsh, Patrick C., and Worthington, Janet F. Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer. New York: Time Warner, 2001. This is one of the most widely read books on prostate cancer. Although it has many strong points, it is wordy, redundant, and weighty (443

pages). Worthington is a science writer at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, and Walsh is the former chief of urology there. The book strongly reflects the surgical interests of the senior author and in some sections has the tone of a cheerleader. It includes much valuable information but has some omissions (such as the possible role of sexually transmitted diseases) and strong biases (it is overly enthusiastic about dietary causes). It is also unduly sanguine about outcomes and postoperative complications following prostatectomy.

*Wheeler, Chuck, and Wheeler, Martha. Affirming the Darkness: An Extended Conversation About Living with Prostate Cancer. Beverly, Mass.: Memoirs Unlimited, 1996. This is a book in which the husband and wife, married for fifty years, kept separate diaries. Chuck Wheeler was diagnosed with a Gleason 9 prostate cancer at age 65 and died eight years later. This account of those years includes his surgery, penile prosthesis, orchiectomy, metastasis, and pain control. At one point Chuck writes: ''You know, honey, I've never died before. This is a brand-new experience for me. It's a constant preoccupation.'' This excellent book about dying from prostate cancer should be read by anyone who doubts that the disease can be nasty and deadly.

Williams, Charles R., and Williams, Vernon A. That Black Men Might Live. Roscoe, Ill.: Hilton Publishing, 2003. Rev. Charles Williams has written a cautionary tale aimed at black men but applicable to all men. He initially ignored multiple signs and symptoms that something was seriously wrong with his urinary tract. When he finally had a PSA taken, it was 172. What did he do next? He ignored it for five additional months. When at last he had a biopsy, the prostate cancer had already spread to his bones. Trying to salvage something from this personal disaster, Rev. Williams dedicated the remainder of his life to educating other black men about the importance of regular PSA testing. The writing is uneven, but the message comes through loud and clear.


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