By Kennedy Shelley
Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is number one in men.
But like most cancers, there is always the problem with detecting it early enough to give you treatment options.
If you miss the growth of a cancer in your prostate gland, you run the risk of a lifetime of incontinence, sexual dysfunction or even death.
It is mostly found in men over 65 and there are over 150,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
But most men resist getting checked for this because it’s kind of embarrassing to have your prostate gland checked.
That’s why many men were excited when a blood test came out that promised to be a diagnostic tool without the embarrassment.
Unfortunately, there are problems with this test. A bicycle ride before the blood draw could elevate the PSA levels and give you a false positive.
False positives create their own problems, often leading to unnecessary biopsies where other complications and infections can occur.
About 75% of the biopsies that occur because of a high PSA test were negative. That is a great number of false positives.
That is why there is new excitement about a new diagnostic test that might get more clear results without the problems of embarrassment and fewer false positives.
This new test is a urine test. Because urine passes through the plumbing which relies on the prostate cells are in the urine.
This new test looks in this fluid to find any cancer cells or problems in the RNA.
And to take away any further impediment to check, this test can be done at home and mailed to the lab.
It certainly is preferable to undergo a prostate biopsy every 6-12 months because of a high PSA test.
While this test is going through its final round of trials, it should be available soon because this is a fairly straightforward test which has the potential of a large number of participants.
The hope is that this test will eventually be able to screen for other cancers. Since urine moves through the bladder from the kidneys and the urethra, all these areas can be checked for cancerous cells just from the fluid at the end of the journey.
As our detection technology improves, we have new tools to detect disease early.
Just because cancer is detected, it doesn’t mean that it’s panic time. As one person said, ‘if you live long enough, nearly every man will have prostate cancer.’ Because most forms of it are very slow-growing, it often is not worth treating.
There are over three million men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US who are living with it today.
But finding out early is critical for the fast-growing versions that cause horrible changes to people’s quality of life.
And it can’t be ignored that nearly 32,000 men were killed by prostate cancer last year. So, it is a dangerous and real problem.
It is the second leading cancer killer of men.