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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Monday, June 21, 2010

Clark gives an update on his prostate cancer

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As many of you may know, Clark was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer about a year and a half ago. Over the past week, the consumer champ was in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai for his annual prostate biopsy.

In the United States, any amount of cancer usually leads to immediate treatment -- be it radiation, surgery, proton beam or a combo of those and other approaches. But when he was diagnosed, Clark took the European approach of going into "watchful waiting." That simply means he is screened via a simple PSA blood test every 90 days and has a yearly biopsy.

The results of this most recent biopsy showed cancer in one of 12 samples. However, there was absolutely no progression of any type in his cancer since last year's biopsy. So he is still opting for no treatment going forward.

Prostate cancer is a disease that kills as many men as car wrecks do each year. Yet prostate cancer doesn't have a high public profile; most men are afraid to talk about it. That makes it vitally important to get screened. White men should start being tested for prostate cancer at age 50, while black men need to start their testing earlier at age 40.

For now, Clark is in the best possible situation that you can be when you have some form of cancer. Most treatments have some amount of negative side effects and, because he's in no danger of dying, he's again choosing to do more watchful waiting and have his regular screenings.

In related news, the University of Michigan has had a huge breakthrough in identifying genetic markers that point to 24 distinct kinds of prostate cancer. It's the only cancer Clark knows of that has such segmentation. Some of the cancers are aggressive; others would never require treatment; and some that are in between are slow growing but can kill if left untreated.

Until now, doctors had no way to distinguish between the 24 types. In the next few years, however, men will be able to give a simple urine sample and know what type of prostate cancer (if any) they have. It will revolutionize detection and treatment -- or lack of treatment, in Clark's case!

The consumer champ's choice not to have treatment at this time may stun you. But rest assured he's not being foolish about this and his health is fine. If that changes, he will do the treatment that seems appropriate down the road.

As always, many thanks to our kind listeners and viewers who continue to ask about Clark's condition.
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