According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. In 2007, it is estimated that nearly 220,000 cases were diagnosed, and that there were approximately 27,000 deaths due to the disease. [1] For most men, such a diagnosis is devastating, representing their worst fears.

Statistics like these—frequently cited in mainstream news media—certainly add to the apprehension every man feels as the time for his annual physical rolls around. But what these statistics do not show is that many newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer are low risk and may not need immediate treatment. In a recent article in PCRI Insights, Dr. Laurence Klotz of the University of Toronto states, “50-60% of diagnosed patients now fall into the favorable-risk category.” [2] Unfortunately, many of these low-risk patients will receive immediate aggressive treatment.

What most men are not aware of, and what is not usually “up front” in the media reports, is that prostate cancer is usually slow growing and that men with low or favorable risk cancer may never need aggressive treatment. A man might have undiagnosed prostate cancer for years without being aware of it. Autopsies of men who died from various causes have consistently shown that undiagnosed prostate cancer is common. It is estimated that about 40 percent of men in their fifties to about 80 percent of men in their seventies have latent or undiagnosed prostate cancer.

With the advent of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing to routine blood work for men over fifty, the risk for a man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased substantially. Such a diagnosis usually results in extreme duress and is often coupled with an emotional need for immediate treatment to “fix” or “remove” the problem. But since many cancers found via routine PSA testing are clinically insignificant, aggressive treatment can be more damaging than helpful—especially to a man’s quality of life.

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer are frequently scheduled for aggressive treatment within a few weeks of their diagnosis. Much of this is due to misinformation on the part of the patient, and a failure of the clinician to fully explain the risk/benefit ratio. It is often easier to satisfy an emotional need for immediate treatment, than it is to explain to a panicky patient that his cancer may never become life threatening.

This results in over-treatment of many cases of localized, low-risk, non-aggressive prostate cancer. Unfortunately, prostate cancer treatment has significant side effects, particularly on a man’s quality of life. Without question, all treatment for prostate cancer—short of watchful waiting—causes some degree of permanent sexual dysfunction and incontinence. While some function may return after a few weeks or months, it will never be the same as it was before treatment. Many men go into treatment without fully understanding this—only to regret it later.

In today’s society, we are conditioned to quickly treat all health problems that occur. Couple this mindset with the word cancer, and panic can easily set in. A doctor that feels immediate treatment is not mandatory may well find himself transferring patient records to someone else—even though a man with low-risk prostate cancer may be well advised to pursue a program of “watchful-waiting” or “active surveillance”—especially if he is 75 or older.

For many men and their clinicians though, “watchful waiting” simply means a repeat PSA test and biopsy every few months. During this time, the original conditions that caused the cancer to appear are not altered, and thus one is only waiting for the cancer to progress to a point where aggressive medical treatment is mandatory.

It is important for men to realize that there is an inherent wisdom in the body. There is very strong evidence that the right nutrients and herbal medication can help the body contain and possibly reverse the course of low-risk prostate cancer, potentially freeing the patient of the need to have aggressive treatment for years. Many clinicians have limited knowledge of nutrition and herbal support and are reluctant to refer patients to naturopaths, herbalists, and nutritionists. In my opinion, they are doing their patients a great disservice.

Men with localized, low-risk, non-aggressive prostate cancer need to explore their options with both conventional and natural practitioners. They need to wake up to the enormous benefits and potential of natural health and nutrition and its role in preventing and reversing prostate problems. A reputable and knowledgeable natural health practitioner can work side-by-side with a clinician resulting in better overall results for all patients, and particularly for men with prostate problems.

Copyright 2008, James Occhiogrosso, N.D.,, All Rights Reserved. Portions of this article are excerpted from the book “Your Prostate, Your Libido, Your Life.”

1. American Cancer Society, Facts and Figures 2007
2. Klotz, L., M.D., Active Surveillance For Favorable Risk Prostate Cancer: What Are The Results, and How Safe Is It, PCRI Insights, Vol. 9, No. 4, Nov. 2006

Author's Bio: 

James Occhiogrosso is a Natural Health Practitioner specializing in male health issues and author of the book "Your Prostate, Your Libido, Your Life." He began to research natural solutions for his prostate and sexual issues in the early 1990s and found little reliable information. This led to more formal studies that resulted in diplomas as a Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.) and Master Herbalist (M.H.) He maintains an active practice helping both men and women overcome hormonal and sexual issues associated with aging and often acts as an advisor for men with prostate cancer whose doctors recommend a "watchful waiting" approach. You can contact him at The book is available on his website at or at and other online booksellers.