Due to the absence of symptoms in early stage disease, prostate cancer may not be detectable by the patient early enough to save his life; due to the fact that prostate cancer is not curable in later stages, it is critical that the disease is detected early, or else it would advance, and then the man’s life would be reasonably in danger.
To that end, the American Cancer Society has instituted a number of prostate cancer screening programs that will aid in detecting the disease early enough to make a difference. In addition, they have urged that men approaching middle age should start to go for regular medical checkups at least once a year. The timing for this follows the fact that prostate cancer is not common among men younger than 45 years old, and its incidence steadily rises from 50 years of age.
The screening programs for prostate cancer generally begin with the DRE test – direct rectal examination. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum of the would-be patient and feels the organ in question for any anomalies such as a distortion, a swelling, or something of that nature.
It is an inconclusive test, but if the physician feels the need for it, he can order another test – the PSA test – to determine if indeed his suspicions are right. Even if the DRE test was negative, the PSA test being a step further up would certainly provide more information.
All men have a certain amount of prostate specific antigens in their blood, but if they are in good prostate health, the level is never up to 4.0ng/ml in the blood. Anything at that level or more is cause for concern, although it could mean that the man suffer from something else besides prostate cancer. Extracting some blood to be examined in the lab should provide the necessary information.
A lot does ride on the intuition of the oncologist or urologist in charge of the procedure, and on the paranoia of the man undergoing the screening. Even though both the DRE and PSA tests do not point directly to prostate cancer, either party may decide that a prostate biopsy is necessary.
During the biopsy a special needle is inserted into the organ the same way a DRE test is done, and tissue samples are extracted from it to be examined under a microscope in the laboratory. More than just telling that the man has prostate cancer (or not), the biopsy provides further critical information about the disease such as the Gleason numbers and the Gleason score, which more or less provide the first basic knowledge about the stage of the disease.
Somebody stumbling across any literature – or even a conversation – on prostate cancer is sure to hear the term ‘PSA’ sooner than later. It’s because the prostate specific antigen (PSA) has become one of the standards for determining if a man has prostate cancer.
But PSA Test Can Be Inaccurate
But interestingly, there are too many things that are uncertain about the results obtained from a PSA test. For one, the fact that a man has a higher PSA count than is proper does not imply that he has prostate cancer, and the fact that a man has prostate cancer does not imply that his PSA levels will rise.
There are certain forms of prostate cancer, as a matter of fact, that specifically do not cause a rise in the level of prostate specific antigens in the blood of the patient while they are advancing. A small cell sarcoma is a brilliant example of this, one manifestation of the disease that is so difficult to catch that it is often quite advanced before that is done. Waiting to see a raised PSA count would certainly be a problem with something like that.
So why then is the PSA still so important?
Screening for prostate cancer is by no means a walk in the park, and the most definitive assurance of a diagnosis is rather invasive because of the poking of the organ by a needle. In order to lower expense and discomfort to the patient, other tests have to be conducted to see if the biopsy of the prostate is indeed called for.
Several other diseases cause a spike PSA count in the blood – and could raise it over the critical 4.0ng/ml that depicts if the patient might be in trouble or not. If this is the case, then the biopsy is justified; if it does not happen however, then the doctor may decide not to go ahead with the efforts to diagnoses the disease.
Once the patient has been confirmed to have prostate cancer, though, the PSA count certainly becomes important because it may now be used as some kind of barometer to determine the seriousness of the disease – it’s aggression and the level of its advancements – along with the results gotten from the biopsy (the Gleason score) and other tests that are generally conducted afterward, which include MRI scans, computer tomography (CT) scans, and ribonucleic bone scans.
During treatment, the PSA level of the patient is thus monitored for any sudden or drastic changes; even though it may mean nothing, at least it will help determine if more needs be done. In the meantime, researchers are looking for other less invasive yet more definitive ways to diagnose the disease.
New More Effective PSA Test Method For Detecting Prostate Cancer:
We just found an interesting news article that throws more light on a kind of more advanced PSA test that can detect prostate cancer better than the usual PSA tests.
As you may already know, the usual PSA tests usually throws false positives, which leads to even more biopsies and treatments that may not even be necessary.
This has cost many men lots of money as well as endless mental and psychological traumas. Hopefully not anymore, if the story about this new PSA Pro Test is to be believed.
Read this news article below:
WASHINGTON, D.C (Ivanhoe Newswire) –The PSA test is the only available FDA approved screening method to identify prostate cancer in men. But, the test has been controversial for years because it’s not always accurate – causing some men unnecessary biopsies and needless treatment. We’ll tell you about a better, more accurate test for prostate cancer.
When Dan Zenka learned he had prostate cancer, his doctor let him know how serious the diagnosis was.
“He indicated that mine was a more aggressive form or appeared to be a more aggressive form of prostate cancer,” Dan Zenka, Prostate cancer patient told Ivanhoe.
Dan knows a lot about prostate cancer, he’s senior vice president of communications at the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He’s well aware that one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.
“I knew the chances were good that I might be hearing those very words someday myself,” Zenka said.
The PSA test is the most common way to screen for prostate cancer. But the test can result in a high number of false positives and false negatives – causing unnecessary treatments and missed diagnoses. Now, urologists say that a new test, called the pro PSA test, better detects aggressive cancer and reduces false positives.
“The pro PSA test is more accurate than anything that is currently available,” William Catalona, M.D., a urologist at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine told Ivanhoe.
PSA or prostate specific antigen is found in the blood. High levels of PSA could indicate prostate cancer. The new test measures a more specific form of PSA in the blood.
“That specifically is a better marker for prostate cancer than the other forms of PSA that have been previously developed,” Dr. Catalona said.
The new test measures blood levels of three different types of PSAs. Combined with annual biopsies, or tissue samples, it was about 70 percent accurate in singling out the aggressive tumor. The pro PSA level is turning out to be a more valuable predictor for prostate cancer.
“It can give you a more accurate estimate of whether or not he has prostate cancer, and whether or not the prostate cancer is one of those that would be potentially life threatening,” Dr. Catalona added. Read more here:
We will now await when and whether this new PSA Pro method will be approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. They say it has already been approved in Europe, so that’s a good sign.
So, there you go - New More Effective PSA Test Method For Detecting Prostate Cancer!