Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Diabetes inversely related to prostate cancer risk

Two studies conclude that men with diabetes have a lower risk of prostate cancer than nondiabetics, suggesting a potential biological link between the conditions.

Second BPH drug reduces prostate cancer risk

Like finasteride (Proscar), dutasteride (Avodart), a drug used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Safety concerns prompt labeling change on testosterone gels

Manufacturers of testosterone gel products must add a boxed warning on the products about adverse effects.

Vitamin E-selenium-soy combo doesn’t prevent prostate cancer

Canadian researchers report in 2009 that these supplements offer no benefit in terms of prostate cancer prevention.

What is a “PSA bounce?”

I had brachytherapy to treat my prostate cancer and my PSA had dropped to 0.3 ng/ml. But six months ago, my PSA had gone up to 0.5, and now it’s up to 0.8 ng/ml. I’m worried that the cancer is back; my doctor said it could be a “PSA bounce.” What’s that?

Can a vasectomy increase prostate cancer risk?

Experts conclude that there is no association between vasectomy and prostate cancer risk.

What’s the downside to a biopsy?

Even if my father takes antibiotics beforehand, could he develop a serious infection when he has a prostate biopsy later this year? Are there other possible complications we should be on the lookout for?

How soon can I bike after a biopsy?

I am an avid bicyclist, and I am having a prostate biopsy in a few weeks. How long do I need to wait after the biopsy before I can start biking again?

What if I have prostate cancer and lymphoma?

There’s no one correct course of action. In general, experts recommend first treating whichever condition is worse.

Am I too old to have prostate surgery?

A radical prostatectomy is a major operation that can lead to serious complications. If a man is older than 75, his doctor may not want to operate on him.

Do I need to use condoms after prostate surgery?

Yes. Even if a man doesn’t ejaculate, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can still be passed from one partner to another during sexual activity.

Experimental therapies for prostate cancer

Androgen deprivation, whether through surgical removal of the testicles or with medication, is an effective treatment for recurring prostate cancer — at least for a while. An improved understanding of the biology of prostate cancer has led to the development of two drugs that might slow disease progression in prostate cancer patients whose disease no longer responds to androgen deprivation.

Stress and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

Some evidence suggests that stress reduction may ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Can radiation therapy combat a rising PSA after surgery?

I had a radical prostatectomy a year ago and thought I was cured. But now my PSA is rising rapidly, a sign that the cancer is back. Might radiation therapy help?

Can hormone therapy cause muscle loss?

I am currently undergoing hormone therapy with leuprolide (Lupron) injections to shrink an enlarged prostate. I believe I’ve noticed some muscle loss. Is this possible?

Botox for BPH?

It may sound like a promising approach, but there’s a lot we don’t know about using Botox to treat an enlarged prostate.

Pomegranate juice may slow prostate cancer progression

Drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day may slow disease progression, as measured by PSA.

Avoiding complications of anti-androgens: A patient’s story

Sixty-five-year-old George Lincoln* never suspected that anything was wrong. Aside from some of the typical side effects of hormone therapy for his prostate cancer, such as fatigue, occasional hot flashes, mild weight gain, and a loss of libido, he felt okay. He didn’t have abdominal pain, nausea, jaundice, or any other symptoms that might indicate a potentially life-threatening problem.

When to test for prostate cancer: Finding a balance

A conversation with Fritz H. Schroder, M.D., the principal investigator of the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer

Testosterone supplementation after prostate cancer?

As men age, their testosterone production begins to slow. As men get into their 50s, 60s, and beyond, they may start to have signs and symptoms of low testosterone including reduced sex drive and sense of vitality, erectile dysfunction, decreased energy, lower muscle mass and bone density, and anemia. In some cases, supplemental testosterone may help. However, doctors disagree over the wisdom of prescribing testosterone to prostate cancer survivors.

Positive surgical margins following radical prostatectomy

Today, about 10% to 20% of patients who have their prostate surgically removed are told that they have positive surgical margins, meaning some cancer cells may have been left behind. In this roundtable discussion, three Harvard physicians discuss positive surgical margins what patients with positive margins should consider next.

Is health news helpful or just hype?

Knowing the basics of scientific research and statistics can help you understand what medical studies really say

In the late 1990s, word that selenium and vitamin E might lower the risk of prostate cancer was reported by newspapers and magazines, broadcast on television and radio, and announced on Web sites. Eager to prevent the disease — and convinced that vitamins and minerals couldn’t be harmful — men around the world began taking the supplements.

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