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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Friday, December 9, 2022
Letter: Change medical directive and encourage prostate testing

Dear editor:

I am writing regarding Dr. Steven Millward's Oct. 8 letter, “Cancer agency does not recommend prostate screening for all.”

Unlike President Donald Trump, who professes to know more than any professional, in any field, in the history of the world, I almost never disagree with the medical experts. I may, on occasion, request a second opinion.

Respectfully, I take exception with the aforementioned letter by Dr. Millward. I totally disagree with the medical profession and Canadian Urological Association when they expound on their favourite narrative: After age 70 a PSA test is not necessary – at that age you will not die from cancer – you will die with it. Tell that to the millions of widows worldwide whose spouses followed this advice, did not get tested, and died from prostate cancer.

PSA testing, like COVID-19 tests, will not prevent you from contracting the disease. However, there is indisputable evidence that prostate cancer is very curable with early detection or, as a minimum, will extend your life with aggressive treatment.

Additionally I agree with our MPP Wayne Gates that the cost of early testing ($30 to $50 per test in Ontario) far outweighs the enormous costs of treating this illness.

On a very personal basis, within the past two years, both of my brothers-in-law, who were brothers, were diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer, which had spread to their bones.

Neither had a PSA test for years, nor had they ever been hospitalized in their lives. Dr. Hamish Small, the oldest, was diagnosed as a followup to a result of a routine blood test, which showed an elevated alkaline phosphatase level.

Dr. Small was an alert, exceptionally fit and active senior – still conducting research in his private research lab. He was internationally honoured, world renowned and a brilliant research scientist/inventor in the field of ion chromatography.

Dubbed by his international peers as a giant in the field and father of ion chromatography – his work seeded a $300-million Silicon Valley company, Dionics, later sold to the multinational firm Thermo Fisher Scientific for billions of dollars.

The company later established an endowed chair named in his honour, the Hamish Small Chair of Ion Analysis, at the University of Texas at Arlington. Hamish died in August 2019 in Ashland, Ore., just weeks short of his 90th birthday.

His younger brother Ian, a retired educator, equally alert and fit, playing golf three to four times per week, is still battling the same terminal disease in England.

In conclusion, it is my strong belief that Hamish would be alive today had it not been for the misguided age directive with respect to PSA testing. Ian's life would similarly be extended had he been diagnosed earlier. The medical profession should not be advising seniors not to get tested. Please qualify your directive.

My advice to seniors: I would not categorize a simple PSA blood test screening as invasive or harmful. It may well save your life.

So, continue to get the damn test and any subsequent advances. It's your health , you owe it to your family.

To Premier Doug Ford: Please approve OHIP coverage of the tests. Live up to your political narrative, “The health of all Canadians comes first and foremost.”

Samuel Young

NOTL