by Robert Warren Hess

The PCAP Pony Express rode on April 2nd with Shelley Martin and her “Peace Out for Prostate Cancer” ride at Arizona Bike Week in Phoenix. Shelley founded the ride in 2013 in honor of her father and grandfather, both of who died from prostate cancer.

PCAP President Robert Hess with Shelley Martin, Peace Out for Prostate Cancer Ride Founder

PCAP President Robert Hess with Shelley Martin, Peace Out for Prostate Cancer Ride Founder

It was a beautiful day, with close to 400 riders making a loop through the area north of Phoenix. My father lived in Phoenix and loved the desert and I can see why. It has a very special beauty.

One-on-One About Prostate Cancer
It’s always great to be out with guys because we have a chance to talk about prostate cancer one-on-one. I spoke with one rider. “Joe,” who has had a rising PSA for two years but had just received a negative biopsy.

“joe’s” PSA is up to 10 – remember that 4 is generally considered “normal”* – and there are no abnormalities with his physical exam. He told me that his biopsy consisted of 6 core samples. I’m not a doctor and I don’t give medical advice, but I remember that my biopsy included 18 core samples and it took two sets of 18 samples to find my two tumors hiding on the top of my prostate. 6 samples just seems to be too low.

I suggested that “Joe” have a Free PSA blood to see if there is an indication of prostate cancer. These PSA tests aren’t 100% accurate, but they do have diagnostic value. If the Free to total PSA ratio is too low, this is a good indication that prostate cancer may be present.

Here’s Where Free PSA Can Play a Role
The Free PSA test is a simple blood test just like the basic PSA test. There is a ratio between the total PSA and Free PSA. The Free PSA number should be 25% of more of the total PSA number. For example, if your total PSA is 2.0, your Free PSA should be .50 or more. In my personal case, my total PSA test was 3.2 and my Free PSA value was .19, way below the 25% ratio. This led my doctor to two rounds of biopsies that eventually located my tumors.

In “Joe’s” case, if his Free PSA is outside of that 25% ratio, he probably should be thinking about a more extensive series of biopsies or other tests. TIP: If you are scheduled for a needle biopsy, be sure to ask about local anesthetic for the procedure.

Who Do You Know that Needs a PSA Test?
Our ladies know they need to have an annual mammogram and we guys need to remember to begin having our annual PSA beginning at age 35 and personally recording and following any change in that number.

Just include the PSA test in your annual physical checkup and record the PSA number in our free prostate cancer tracking tool: PROSTATETRACKER.