Monday, June 8, 2009

Field of Dreams?

I saw the above commercial this past weekend. It's sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and it basically shows a montage of little kids (ages 6-10) who have to resort to having a game of catch with disembodied gloves attached to garage doors and mannequins and mattresses, because ol' Dad isn't around anymore. The implication, you see, is that he died of prostate cancer. The message is simple: get screened for prostate cancer and support research in the field because maybe some day that will be your kid out there in some lonely field, having a catch with a scarecrow or a sycamore tree.

I certainly won't argue the point that prostate cancer is a serious health threat (#5 leading cause of cancer death in men). But the presentation in the commercial is laughably disingenuous. The commercial would have us believe that prostate cancer is striking down men across the country in their prime, leaving fatherless young children in its remorseless wake. But the reality is that the median age of diagnosis of prostate cancer is 68! And most of these cancers are slow growing and indolent, anyway. The ad is sensationalistic and irresponsibly misleading. It would be like the National Breast Cancer Foundation producing an advertisement where you had Prom Kings showing up at high school dances without dates because the Prom Queens had all died of breast cancer. Sure, it would be a powerful ad; but at what cost? Cancer is too serious a health issue to risk compromising the credibility of research organizations with dishonest advertising campaigns like the one above....


Anonymous said...

Good point Buckeye, my old man still gives me wat-fur for recommending he get his PSA checked a few years back...led to a negative prostate biopsy, after which he decided he'd take his chances with the cancer... And howcome with all brands of pre-version readily available on family hour TV, no mention of the ONE measure thats been shown to cut the risk of Prostate Cancer by %50??? See:
British Journal of Urology, International Edition, Vol 92, pg 211
Of course you might need glasses afterwards,

Frank, M.D.

maggie mahar said...


A very good post. I agree, too much fear-mongering abot prostate cancer.

But I'm also writng to give you a head's up that todau I wrote about one of your posts on my
(See post titled "A Surgeon's Tale"

I write about your 2007 post titled "No Chance."

As a potential patient, I felt you did the right thing.

But some of my readers don't agree.

There's one long comment which deerves a resopnse.

If you have the time, you could fill in the details, answering some of his questions.

(I still support what you did, but he asks some good questions.

Most imporantly, I think your very honest post raises some very important medical ethical questions. In the messy reality of hospitals and people dying, the asnwers just aren't always that clear-cut.

Best, Maggie Mahar

Anonymous said...

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. 27 thousand men died last year from prostate cancer.