Prostate Cancer and the PSA Test

We have a new recommendation about Prostate Cancer tests from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel of independent experts.  This panel of experts found that the PSA blood test does not save lives overall when used as a routine screening test.

The value of PSA testing has been debated recently, and the recommendation of this panel indicates that this testing has less value than previously thought.   The sad part about this is that the PSA test has been used to create fear in patients, and they have opted for treatments that cause impotence and incontinence.  The tricky part is that sometimes the PSA test followed by one of these treatments can save your life if you happen to have one of the cancers that are very aggressive. The trouble is that many of the cancers that would show up with a PSA test are so slow that, depending on your age, many doctors would not bother treating them.

Some statistics I got from a recent article say that 200,000 American men were diagnosed with prostate cancer last year; about 3 percent of men are at risk of dying of prostate cancer in their lifetime, most after age 75.

What I recommend to men who come into my office in Fort Myers is :

  1. Don’t panic if you have a PSA result that indicates a problem.
  2. Find out as much as you can about your particular condition.
  3. Get more than one opinion on what steps you might take to see if no treatment is the best treatment for you.
  4. When a procedure is suggested to you,  investigate it thoroughly for yourself so that you understand all the ramifications of the treatment.
  5. Look into changing your lifestyle to help your body heal itself.
  6. Check alternative medicine such as acupuncture, herbs, and massage.  These treatments will not cause impotence or incontinence.

By David Martin D.O.M.