Research Shows Low-risk Prostate Cancer is Often Overblown

Jul 27th, 2010 | By | Category: Impotence News

A new health post from NPR highlights a recent study showing that men at low-risk for Prostate Cancer are getting aggressive treatments, often unnecessarily.

According to the study, PSA blood tests are the culprit to the over-treatment for prostate cancer. PSA stands for Prostate-specific antigen, and is the protein produced by glands of the prostate.

Testing PSA levels in blood is the best way to detect Protstate cancer early, but it’s not without its limitations. 7 out of 10 men testing positive do not actually have prostate cancer, and roughly 2.5 out of 10 men with prostate cancer do not show any suspicious levels of PSA in their blood.

Prostate cancer comes in many levels, depending on an individual’s genetics, diet, and basic biology. In some cases, men can live their entire lives without concern. But the issue here is not so much the cancer itself, but the screening practices resulting in over-diagnosis, over-testing, and over-treatment.

Over-treatment is unfortunate for everyone – once a PSA test shows elevated levels, a biopsy is used to confirm the existence of a cancer. It’s expensive and results in increased suffering, risking bleeding and infections. And tne of these biggest risks, as highlighted by NPR, is the aggressive over-treatment of this cancer.

The New England Journal of Medicine discovered in a 7-10 year period that regular prostate screenings did not reduce the death of men 55 years and over. The fact is, and many experts agree, there simply are not enough facts presented by PSA screenings to determine the total health risks of prostate cancer.

In the worst-case scenarios, over-treatment can result in prostatecomies and radiation therapy that may be wholly unnecessary, not to mention provide side effects like incontinence and impotence. For those with slow-growing prostate cancer, this treatment is at best not necessary and at worst requiring additional screenings.

So, let’s be serious, this is cancer we’re talking about. Nobody messes around with cancer. Most people, when told by their doctor they’re at elevated risk of any kind of cancer will immediately elect to whatever treatment is necessary to prevent the cancer from developing, even if pursuing aggressive life-changing surgeries even if it risks impotence or incontinence.

Medicare and Veterans Administration spend a large chunk of the $3 billion annual cost of screenings for prostate cancer. But the way it’s looking these days, many of these screenings are not only unnecessary, they provoke the fear and concern we all have of dying ill when many times this concern is not necessary.

We need better testing, or at least smarter care. So the next time you talk with your doctor, get a second opinion. And a third. And even a fourth if you have to. There’s no need to make mountains out of molehills.

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