PSA Test: Why Is It Important?

Aug 10th, 2008 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

There is for men a notorious Positive Sign of Aging (PSA)! If you are a man, or a woman who cares for a man, any man, PSA needs be added to your annual list of reminders, particularly and especially for those past 40.

This Positive Sign of Aging (not a medical term, just another way to catch your eye) really deals with a man’s prostate. Statistics demonstrate that one in six men will develop some form of prostate cancer in their lives; one in 35 will die from it. And, the PSA test which should be a part of one’s annual physical exam is a way to keep tabs on the condition of one’s prostate. PSA actually is the designation for Prostate Specific Antigen, medically speaking.

I have come across men who don’t even know the term, never heard of it. Dangerous! And I have discovered those of us who have been conscientious and informed and still get Prostate Cancer any way. That is my story.

Last year, following a regular check up I was referred by my primary care physician to a urologist. My PSA numbers were up, after a lifetime (68 years of age at the time)) of clean reports. The urologist did a biopsy and found the Big C. Now, to be sure most people at this stage in the story are not necessarily alarmed. Enter the Oncologist/Urologist who shares the results of the biopsy and tells me my cancer is very aggressive. You may want to search the word “Gleason Scale or Score” on the internet. I refer not to the comedian but to a method for measuring the aggressiveness of the cancer, that is how fast it is growing and spreading.

Mine came out at a big fat 9 (that’s NINE). That’s serious. My physician later told me that had I not chosen (he really gave me no choice) to have my prostate removed I would have died in my early 70s and had a miserable death. Not much of a choice.

So say it again, PSA. Now, the good news is that I am free and clear, have had no radiation, but continue to have my PSA checked very often to be sure there is no stray cancer cell running around loose somewhere.

My Oncologist told me that there are always a variety of choices for the patient. However, in some cases those choices become less available the higher one is in the Gleason scale. So, I didn’t argue. I said “when do we do it?” In less than a month from when we discovered the culprit, surgery was done and I was on my way to the rest of my life.

Now, what is this about so far as you, the reader, is concerned? Well, it’s about your doing several things. I suggest these:

*Be Disciplined: Be sure you have an annual check-up and be sure it always includes the PSA test. And do not be embarrassed to have your physician do a rectal exam. That tells the doctor whether your prostate has a normal or enlarged feel. Briefly uncomfortable, but very important.

*Be Aware: Start now, no matter your age, to uncover all the information you can about Prostate Cancer. Men, as women with their breasts, are at risk for this form of Cancer. Period. So catch the fox before he gets into the hen house.

*Be Alert: Watch for any change in your activities. Particularly, watch your habits. How many times a day do you urinate? How about getting up at night? How about changes in your stream? Ask your spouse or partner to help you remain conscientious.

Remember, it’s your life. Don’t wait, don’t wonder! ACT NOW!



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