Watchful Waiting — An Accident Waiting to Happen?
   by James Occhiogrosso, N.D.


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“Watchful Waiting” and “Active Surveillance” are equivalent terms used to describe an option sometimes offered to men with “low-grade” or “favorable-risk” prostate cancer. This is in lieu of immediate, aggressive treatment like surgery, seed implantation, radiation, and other modalities. During the “watchful waiting” period, the man receives regular examinations by his urologist as well as periodic PSA blood tests to monitor his cancer for signs of growth or increasing aggressiveness. Unfortunately, he is rarely told about nutrition, lifestyle changes, herbal supplements, natural products, or natural techniques that may help reduce his cancer or slow its growth.

In my opinion, watchful waiting is akin to finding yourself driving on the wrong side of an unfamiliar highway. You have two choices: — to speed up and get off at the next exit, or immediately get off the active roadway, wait for a traffic lull, and turn around to the correct direction. Obviously, the first choice has a much higher probability of disaster! Watchful waiting is like continuing to drive down the road in the wrong direction hoping to find an exit before disaster strikes.

In most cases, a man using watchful waiting simply continues with his previous life-style pattern and submits to examinations periodically. Thus, he is waiting and hoping that his cancer does not progress to a more serious stage or spread outside of his prostate to other areas. He is, essentially, doing little to help himself!

In my opinion, watchful waiting without serious lifestyle changes and intensive nutritional and herbal support, is very similar to continuing to drive on the wrong side of the highway. There is a high probability disaster will strike before finding an exit!

Cancer does appear instantly like an attack of the flu, but rather, grows slowly for many years until it is detected—either in a routine medical examination—or due to nagging symptoms. Once the cancer is detected, simply waiting does not—in any way—change the conditions in the body that caused the abnormal growth! Thus, with no interaction other than periodic re-examinations and/or PSA blood testing, the conditions that caused the cancer are still in place, and the cancer has a higher likelihood of progressing.

The human body is constantly producing cancer cells. In a healthy body, such cells are detected and eliminated by the immune system. Cancer represents a failure of the immune system to do its job. While genetics may play a role in the development of prostate cancer, I am convinced that more often it is due to poor lifestyle and nutritional status. The Standard American Diet (note abbreviation is “SAD”) has a lot to do with the poor health of Americans and the high occurrence of various chronic illnesses like cancer. Changing nutritional status and boosting the immune system is the first step towards improving one’s health.

Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer often respond to the diagnosis with a mental goal to get the cancer removed as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Often this need to take aggressive action results in unnecessary treatment and side effects that are worse than the illness. These men cannot live with the thought of cancer in their body. They must take action. Watchful waiting may cause them severe emotional issues and is not for them.

On the other hand, some men offered the option of watchful waiting, accept that their cancer is slow growing and decide they can live with it more easily than they can live with the side effects of treatment. These men have a golden opportunity to change the conditions in their life that may have caused the cancer, and in doing so, may inhibit further growth so that their cancer may never need aggressive treatment.

Unfortunately, many men that choose watchful waiting never consult a professional to guide them along a natural path towards keeping their cancer in check. They treat themselves looking toward the Internet for research. This often results in money and time wasted on useless “cures” hawked by unscrupulous salesman. Researching and learning about ways to help with your condition is very valuable, but there is no substitute for the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable professional.

In my practice, I often advise men who have chosen to delay treatment of their prostate cancer with the approval of their urologists. The significant difference with the men I advise is that they have chosen to aggressively improve their health by changing the conditions in their body under which the cancer appeared. My job is to evaluate their overall health and guide them towards ways to improve both their overall health and the health of their prostates.

Watchful waiting is not for everyone. For men lucky enough to have low-risk prostate cancer it is a viable option, but only with a pro-active approach towards eliminating conditions that caused the cancer to grow in the first place. Simply waiting and hoping the cancer will not progress is foolhardy! I believe strongly that with lifestyle changes and the right nutritional and herbal supplements, you can change the conditions that caused your cancer, and possibly inhibit or reverse its progression.

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