New Organization Promotes “Holistic Surveillance” of Prostate Cancer

There are approximately 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed each year. The vast majority are caught at early stages—thanks to concerted screening efforts—and most can be controlled through a comprehensive multimodal holistic approach aimed at reducing inflammation, a key driver of the disease.

“I believe that 80% of prostate cancer surgeries in the US are unnecessary, and it appalls me to observe an increasing trend of urologists purchasing their own radiation units, hiring a radiotherapist, and then benefiting from the added income from the high facility fee,” said Aaron Katz, MD, Director of Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York.

“I have decided to make it my mission to increase patient access to holistic treatments. I believe there is potential to help tens of thousands of men and women” currently living with urologic cancers or other urologic diseases, said Dr. Katz.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Society for Integrative Urology (SIU), a new organization he has founded, he stressed that thousands of largely ineffective and unnecessary surgeries could be avoided each year if more physicians understood how to utilize the various vitamins and nutrients, botanical anti-inflammatory compounds, and medicinal mushrooms that have been shown in good clinical studies to down-regulate inflammation and inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

Dr. Katz  founded the SIU with two of his colleagues from Columbia: Philippa Cheetham, MD, and Jillian Capodice, LAc. The primary goals are to educate both physicians and patients about non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical options, and to promote a concept Dr. Katz calls “Active Holistic Surveillance” for early stage prostate cancer. This approach draws on years of research and clinical experience gained at the Holistic Urology center at Columbia.

“We’re fairly biased against radiation and surgery, and we try to prevent patients from needing them,” he told the gathering.

Lots of Antioxidants

A low-fat diet high in fresh produce and lean protein is the cornerstone of the Holistic Surveillance protocol, but it also includes liberal use of green tea, pomegranate juice, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, lycopene the multi-herb anti-inflammatory formula called Zyflamend, Genistein Combined Polysaccharide (a soy derivative), and Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC)—an NK-cell activator derived from Shitake mushrooms).

“We use a lot of antioxidants,” said Dr. Katz, “and lots of vitamin D.” Regarding the latter, he noted that at Columbia he routinely has prostate cancer patients taking 5,000 IU per day. “We found that 73% of our men with prostate cancer are deficient in vitamin D at time of diagnosis. If we can raise the blood levels to the 40-60 ng/ml range, I believe we can cut the mortality by about 50%. We’ve been recommending 5,000 IU, and we’ve not seen any adverse effects.”

But he stressed that Active Holistic Surveillance is not just about supplementation, it’s about teaching patients to live healthier lives, and to recognize and then minimize the factors that drive prostate neoplasia. It’s also about creating a strong partnership with the patient, which increases the likelihood that he will come in for regular monitoring, another cornerstone of this approach.

Dr. Katz believes a large majority of men with intraepithelial neoplasia or early stage prostate cancer will never need more invasive treatment if they are diligent in making lifestyle changes and following the Holistic Surveillance program.

The Possibility of Prevention

“Unfortunately, the majority of urologists rely solely on surgery and pharmaceuticals. They do not take the time to review the scientific research on holistic treatments, they dismiss prevention as a non-possibility, and they fail to advise their patients on lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, and the use of science-backed nutraceuticals as a means of prevention or complementary therapy.”

In founding the new organization, Dr. Katz hopes to change the situation. He has set a goal of raising $200,000 in the coming year, which will be used to develop a website and an online journal to disseminate reliable scientific data supporting nutritional, botanical, and lifestyle-based interventions; to establish local and national conferences and education programs to educate urologists and primary care doctors alike; and to support a weekly radio show aimed at educating the public.

Ultimately, he hopes SIU will become a hub for integrative-minded physicians versed in how to implement Active Holistic Surveillance, one that will enable more patients to find this sort of comprehensive care.

“I didn’t start out with an interest in “alternative medicine,” said Dr. Katz, reflecting on a career trajectory that has put him at the forefront of alternative medical research and holistic patient care. “I got interested in it because I saw that the focus of urology was all about treatments—radiate, resect, remove! There was nothing about prevention. I wanted to prevent these cancers, not just treat them.”

What began as a sudden vision late last summer rapidly materialized into a first meeting drawing roughly 80 people to upper Manhattan in November. Clearly, the SIU is off to a promising start!

We at Holistic Primary Care applaud this endeavor, and we hope the broader holistic medical community will support it—collectively and individually.

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