Wittenberg: Men should be better advocates for prostate cancer testing

March 26, 2014 

OK men, let’s talk about important stuff. If you can’t handle it, give the column to either your wife, girlfriend or both.

It is time, past time, for men to become vocal about prostate cancer and the testing that is available to you to determine whether you may have prostate cancer.

Women have been vocal and have an established foundation, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, to represent their interests regarding breast cancer. They have a testing methodology that provides reasonable assurance of breast cancer and, in so doing, can begin treatment for the disease if it is present.

This is what men need. The available tests for prostate cancer, the prostate-specific antigen and free prostate-specific antigen tests -- commonly known as PSA tests -- too often provide false positives. In fact, some countries no longer use these tests to determine the presence of prostate cancer.

The problem with the PSA testing is that it may return a high result, supposedly indicative of cancer’s presence, and you could be cancer free. Or, it may result in a low score, supposedly no cancer is present, and you could have the disease.

That leaves you with only one method to determine whether cancer is present or not: a prostate biopsy.

I know that is the last thing you want to consider. But, gentlemen, consider the alternative. Do you want to know whether prostate cancer is present, so you can select treatment for the disease, or just remain ignorant, and let the cancer continue to grow and potentially end your life?

It is past time that men join together and demand suitable testing to determine cancer’s presence short of the biopsy. Write your congressman, talk to your doctor and demand action be taken.

The old saying is that if you live long enough you will have prostate cancer. If that is correct, then it is time for the development of an effective test to alert us to cancer’s presence.

Needless to say, I am not a doctor, and it may be that what we have is all we are going to get. Still, I think we can do better.

Unless you are experiencing difficulty with your prostate earlier, you should begin PSA testing at about age 50. It doesn’t matter that it is not 100 percent effective. You don’t have anything else.

If you don’t have a urologist, I could recommend a good one to you. If you do have a urologist and the first thing he ever said to you was, “You need a biopsy,” you might consider a second opinion.

David Wittenberg resides in Kathleen. Contact him at dkw460@yahoo.com.

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