In years past, there has been controversy in the medical community over the importance of PSA Testing. Critics of testing claim that it can lead to “over treating” prostate cancer. Proponents of testing point to the fact that, if detected early, prostate cancer is treatable 100 percent of the time. Which is correct? How do men evaluate if they should be tested?
How Can You Over Treat Cancer?
To make a more informed decision, it’s important to understand what is meant by over treating prostate cancer. One attribute of this type of cancer is that it is commonly slow growing. This means that it can oftentimes take many years before it ever impacts a man’s other organs. Until it does, it is unlikely that the cancer will cause any serious medical complications or discomfort.
Consider what might happen to a man who is in his late 60s, or to a man who might already be struggling with a more severe medical issue, and undergoes PSA testing. When the results come back and indicate prostate cancer, the reaction is to get rid of it. No one wants to have cancer.
However, remember that the cancer is slow growing. This means that it could take a very long time for him to experience any discomfort or reduced quality of life because of it. So, should a man that might never encounter the negative side-effects of prostate cancer because of his age or current medical state put his body and mind through the strain of treatment? Obviously, this is a personal decision to be considered after conversation with the man’s doctors and loved ones. But, this scenario is considered “over treatment.”
What About the 100 Percent Treatment Rate?
While over treatment can be a concern, there are real advantages to identifying and treating prostate cancer early. There are three stages of prostate cancer – local, regional and distant. In the local stage, cancer has not spread beyond the prostate. In the regional stage, it has spread only to areas nearby. In each of these cases, the survival rate at 5 years is nearly 100 percent.
However, by the time prostate cancer reaches the distant stage, it may be impacting the lymph nodes, bones or other organs. The survival rate at five years for those diagnosed in the distant stage drops to only 29 percent. That is why testing proponents believe PSA testing is critical once men reach age 40: It may help doctors identify prostate cancer before it reaches the distant stage.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
There are a variety of treatment options available for those who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Which option men pursue will depend upon conversations with their doctor about the benefits and risks, as well as at which stage the prostate cancer is diagnosed. Options include surgery, radiation treatment, high-intensity focused ultrasounds or hormone therapy.
In fact, because prostate cancer is slow-growing, there are many instances when a patient may not even require immediate treatment. This method of “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” is a very real option for some men. It means that they can have knowledge about their medical health, but not necessarily take any physically or emotionally stressful measures to resolve it unless their test results start to change.
Having this less-invasive treatment option is one of the key reasons why men should be tested. The testing establishes a PSA level baseline against which they can be monitored for years to come.
New Research on PSA Testing
Because of the mixed views regarding PSA Testing, men can sometimes feel uncertain about how to proceed. Fortunately, new research is being done to help assess whether PSA Testing is a necessary option for men. The latest research re-examined the methods used in the previously completed PSA Testing clinical trials. When researchers did this, they discovered that both trials indicated a more than 30 percent “lower risk of prostate cancer death thanks to screening.” This reaffirms the need to establish a PSA level baseline and begin monitoring prostate health earlier in a man’s life.
No one wants to learn that they have cancer of any type, but knowing means having options! So, don’t wait for the odds of getting prostate cancer to get higher with age before you get tested. Instead, stop into your local Any Lab Test Now to start establishing a PSA baseline now.