Rising PSA no cause for alarm
"PSA velocity" sounds like a phrase that was coined just to frighten you.
And it probably was.
After all, if your doc says "your PSA numbers have risen a touch, but are still low," you probably wouldn't care.
But if he says you've got "PSA velocity," well... now you're probably ready to panic, right?
It's only natural--and before you know it, the real velocity here is the speed at which you're hurtling toward a biopsy and quite possibly surgery, radiation and drugs that could ruin your life... all for a cancer that never was a threat to your health in the first place.
Now, a new study says its time to put the brakes on "PSA velocity," because it's an absolutely meaningless measure: Men whose numbers rise suddenly aren't much more likely to have prostate cancer than men whose numbers don't.
Researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center looked at data on 5,519 men who took part in a major study on prostate cancer prevention, all of whom were ultimately given biopsies no matter what their PSA tests found.
The researchers found that a rising PSA level alone led to a very slight increase in overall cancer risk... but only in the types of tumors that you'd never actually need to worry about.
And rising PSA levels didn't play any role at all in predicting the rare and aggressive cancers that could actually hurt you, according to the study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
That's bad... but get ready for worse, because the researchers say PSA "velocity" is actually more likely to lead to a biopsy--not to mention those unnecessary cancer treatments--than a PSA level that was elevated in the first place.
Many of the men who get these velocity-related biopsies are actually still well within the "normal" PSA range, even with that sudden rise.
Here's the reality of the situation: PSA tests are notoriously unreliable no matter how they're used. High levels, rising levels, and even "normal" levels are all meaningless.
They're like the lottery numbers in a fortune cookie.
Even the tumors detected through this system are almost always slow-growing cancers that would never harm you.
The treatments, on the other hand, could ruin your life, leaving your scarred and stressed--not to mention battling incontinence and impotence.
It's just one more reason why a growing number of enlightened doctors now refuse to use PSA tests at all... and even some mainstream experts are backing away.
But if your doc is still using these screenings, don't even waste your time asking him how he feels about the latest research.
Find a doc who's already caught on instead.
About the author
Edward Martin writes House Calls, a daily letter chronicling the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating diabetes and cancer, to the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.
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