In our last entry we talked about some common concerns regarding PSA tests – sometimes even cancerous tumours are insignificant and don’t spread, and this means that PSA tests can lead to over diagnosis.
However, there’s another side to the PSA controversy. Sometimes PSA scores come back at normal levels, even when cancer is present.
Obviously this is problem. Like we mentioned last time, we realize the PSA test has its flaws. But still, this doesn’t strike us as a reason to not get tested. Sometimes prostate cancer can exist for years before it causes symptoms. Annual testing would most likely catch any changes before it progressed significantly.
This is one of the reasons though that we think the PSA test is best partnered with a DRE. DREs are digital rectal exams where your doctor can note any physical abnormalities.
Combined, the tests are the best screening tool we have to date.
It’s your health … so, why make excuses?
We recommend your first PSA test at age 40. While this is young to contract prostate cancer, we think it’s the best way to establish a base PSA score so that consecutive test results have something to be measured against.
Age 40 also normally precedes the natural growth of the prostate glands that coincides with the aging process. Since prostate growth influences PSA levels, getting a base PSA score before this starts to happen will let you measure the rate at which PSA increasing. Your doctor will be able to know if your PSA score increases are worrisome or not.
If there’s nothing on your medical record to go by, don’t you imagine it would be even more difficult for your doctor to screen you for prostate cancer?
Isn’t that what we’re all trying to avoid?