Why PSA Testing Matters
by Robert Warren Hess
The prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test is a simple screening that indicates the presence of prostate cancer. It isn’t infallible, but it’s very, very good, and it’s widespread use since the 1990’s resulted in 16.1% drop in age-adjusted prostate cancer mortality.*
But, beginning in 2009, the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) began recommending against routine PSA testing over concern about over treatment, resulting in loss of quality of life. This recommendation created a storm of controversy within the medical community and the result was that fewer men chose to have routine prostate cancer screening because the normal standard of care was a PSA blood test and a physical check of the prostate, which many men find uncomfortable.
3 Percent More Men Diagnosed with Advanced Prostate Cancer in 2014
2014 research indicates a rise in men diagnosed with prostate cancer as a result of lower screening rates. The Study shows that an additional 1,400 men likely died from prostate cancer in 2014 as a result.**
The issue isn’t that a man knows he has prostate cancer that results in over treatment and loss of quality of life, it’s the treatment decisions that are made after diagnosis. A prostate cancer diagnosis (any cancer diagnosis) is a shock and treatment decisions often are made during highly emotional states.
Responding to prostate cancer is a process: discovery, evaluation of stage, determination of aggressiveness, treatment option evaluation, treatment decision, treatment outcome analysis, and treatment strategy revision.
The first step is discovery while the cancer is treatable. If that window is missed, treatment options are severely reduced.
In my option, the real challenge is developing better ways of identifying which prostate cancers are aggressive killers and which are indolent and will never be a problem. Research is working in this challenge but we aren’t there yet.
What Women Should Get their Man To Do …
Men just need to take an annual PSA test and track the results using ProstateTracker, which will send an annual reminder for testing. If the PSA test is rising from the previous year, it’s time to talk with the doctor about what’s causing the rise.
If prostate cancer turns out to be present, don’t be afraid to get a second and third opinion about treatment options. There are many information sources about prostate cancer on the Internet. Click the following resources link to get started – RESOURCES.
The UsToo organization has many local chapters for prostate cancer survivors who have experienced every possible form and complication related to prostate cancer. Make a visit before finalizing your treatment plan.
The Bottom Line on Prostate Cancer …
- Prostate cancer strikes one in every six men
- It is treatable if you find it early
- Men need to take that simple PSA blood test every year, beginning at 35
- If you receive a diagnosis, don’t rush to a treatment decision – get that 2nd and 3rd opinion and then decide
If you are a guy, that keeps you from taking an annual PSA test?
If you are a lady, what do you think we could do to convince men to take the test?
* Michael Cookson, MD, in Cancer Control, March/April 2001.