Surviving Prostate Cancer

By Oliffe, John L. | International Journal of Men's Health, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Surviving Prostate Cancer


Oliffe, John L., International Journal of Men's Health


Surviving Prostate Cancer by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006, xiv + 280 pp.

Prostate cancer continues to be a complex disease in terms of cause, diagnosis and treatment efficacy. The challenges of living with prostate cancer and its ambiguities have been chronicled with increasing frequency and the "lived illness experiences" of men and their families is especially important given the epidemiological trends that confirm increasing incidence of prostate cancer in Western countries. It is not surprising, therefore, that numerous publications have been penned with the intent of helping those afflicted with the disease to deal with the inherent challenges that exist across the entire illness trajectory. Generally, such books employ self-help strategies, predominantly through dissemination of biomedical information to engage a male audience that are well known for their collective preference for scientific "fact" rather than detailed self-disclosure about how it "feels" to have prostate cancer. Surviving Prostate Cancer makes use of this familiar format to target a readership that is likely bewildered by health care systems as well as the specificities and contradictions of prostate cancer.

Torrey, who is both a physician and prostate cancer survivor, begins by describing the way in which his prostate cancer was gradually revealed to him and describes the actual moment of receiving the diagnosis. The introduction sets the scene for locating Torrey's own illness within broader biomedical issues. The ensuing chapters offer empirically supported information for calculating prostate cancer severity, as well as details about treatments such as prostatectomy, radiation and hormone therapies, and cryotherapy. Torrey presents many of the prostate cancer debates objectively while unpacking detailed information that is both interesting and accessible to the reader. The limits of what can be reliably reported are acknowledged and a critical lens is applied to yield a sophisticated synopsis of prostate cancer issues that conclude no single interpretation or solution to the problems. This approach is consistent when describing alternative therapies, treatment side-effects, recurrence, and potential causes of prostate cancer. …

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