Priya Menon Priya Menon Scientific Media Editor at Curetalk

Cure Talk’s Interview With Dr. Richard J. Ablin – Robert Benjamin Ablin Foundation For Cancer Research and More – Part 3

We come to the concluding part of CureTalk’s interview with the eminent scientist, Dr. Richard. J. Ablin (read part 1 andpart 2), where he talks about Warren Buffet’s recent prostate cancer diagnosis, advice to people who believe in PSA screening, and his cancer research foundation.

Dr. Richard J. Ablin, Discoverer of PSA

Dr. Ablin in the Division of Immunology Laboratories, Cook County Hospital and Hektoen Institute for Medical Research, Chicago, IL, in 1978. He was Director, Immunobiology Section, Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, and Senior Scientific Officer.

Me: Tell us about the Robert Benjamin Ablin Foundation for Cancer Research, formation, goals, and research aims.

Dr. Ablin: My father was 67; he was very healthy, weighed around 180 lbs, worked daily, played golf, and was very active. One day he came home and his bladder had swollen up like a balloon, and he could not urinate. We took him to the hospital and they inserted a catheter. They did a biopsy, along with some radiological tests. He lit up like a “Christmas tree,” i.e., he had metastasis throughout his body. He had no symptoms prior to the precipitous inability to urinate. His prostate cancer was diagnosed as T4. He died a year later, weighing about 95 lbs, and I could carry him in my arms.

When my father died, I was working on prostate cancer and I founded the Foundation in his memory. Through the Foundation, I endeavor to raise funds to support nominal research grants and my research. In the process of my research, I am trying to find out ways to tell the “turtle” from the “rabbit.” In other words, my research is directed towards identifying biomarkers that would differentiate between an indolent and aggressive type of cancer.

In addition, I present lectures, to prostate cancer support groups and community organizations. Explain to them what prostate cancer is, inform people about treatment options, there positive and negative aspects, and increase awareness of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer can be a very deadly disease, but the problem in majority of men, i.e., over 50%, is that it is a” turtle.” These people die from something else, before they die from prostate cancer.

Me: Warren Buffet has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is 81. What do you think about this?

Dr. Ablin: From what I know from media reports, Warren Buffet was diagnosed with prostate cancer on the basis of having regular PSA tests. In the course of his regular PSA determinations, his doctors found a slight increase in his level of PSA, which prompted a biopsy revealing a small amount of cancer, perhaps in the category of a “turtle.”

Mr. Buffet is 81 years old, which suggests his cancer is age-related; and he probably will die from some other cause before he dies from prostate cancer.

Me: What is your advice to people who believe in PSA screening?

Dr. Ablin: For those people who believe in PSA screening, I would like to present an example…

There were two men, both 65 years of age. Let us call them Tom and Bill.

  • Tom goes for PSA screening, has a biopsy resulting in a diagnosis of prostate cancer, and is treated. He dies at the age of 75 yrs.
  • Now, Bill does not get screened. He waits for symptoms to surface. When he is 70 yrs old, Bill gets some symptoms, is diagnosed with prostate cancer and treated. He too dies at 75 years of age.

People, who believe in screening will  say that Tom was smarter as he lived 10 yrs. and Tom only 5 yrs. However, the truth of the matter is both Tom and Bill lived 10 yrs. and both died at 75 years. Tom might have had incontinence, maybe he was also impotent, and had a poor quality of life…

Some quick figures about prostate cancer:

In 1985, before the widespread use of PSA screening

  • Chances of man having prostate cancer  (incidence)– 8.5%
  • Chances of man dying from prostate cancer (mortality) – 2.5%

In 2005, after the widespread use of PSA screening

  • Incidence of prostate cancer – 18% (it has essentially doubled)
  • Mortality -  3%

Consider a man of 50 years, in the next 25 years,

  • Chances that he may have prostate cancer is 40%
  • Chances that he would have clinical symptoms are 10%
  • Chances that he may die from prostate cancer are 3%.
  • Chances that he might die from cardiovascular diseases is 50%
  • Chances that he might die from some other type of cancer is 20%

The mortality among 100 men,

  • With  lung cancer would be 33%
  • Number of men with prostate cancer is only 3%.

 

What the foregoing means is that PSA screening in the manner currently used may very understandably do more harm than good. I know that prostate cancer can be a deadly disease, my father died from it.

However, in many cases the treatment is worse than disease.

I thank Dr. Ablin for the interview and for his time.

Related posts:

  1. Dr. Richard Ablin, Discoverer Of The PSA Antigen Test Calls It The ‘Greatest Prostate Mistake’
  2. PSA Test Controversy: Richard Ablin And William Catalona Present Views
  3. PSA Screening- Facts and Guidelines
  4. Cure Talk Interview With Mike Baker, Lung Cancer Fighter, Journalist, And Media Trainer
  5. Warren Buffet Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer At 81