In the past few years, regular prostate cancer screening — specifically the PSA blood test — has gone from being the standard to being scorned. The Great Prostate Hoax and Redefining Prostate Cancer clear up the controversy. Here's what we learn.
Even the man who discovered PSA rejects the test:
Dr. Richard Ablin, the first to observe the PSA molecule in 1970, believes testing has done more harm than good. In fact, he offers an apology for the "million needle biopsies per year, and more than 100,000 radical prostatectomies, most of which are unnecessary."
MRIs may be the next best test:
In Redefining Prostate Cancer, the authors acknowledge the limitations of PSA and offer
a better way, with an MRI. While it's not yet offered by all urologists, men concerned about prostate cancer should seek out physicians and centers that have this technology available.
Genetic tests are helpful:
Not all prostate cancer behaves the same. There are slow-growing tumors that don't require treatment and aggressive ones that do — right away. Urologists usually tell the difference under the microscope, after a biopsy. Genetic tests like ProstaVysion and Oncotype DX can help to better predict a cancer's growth.
There are surgical alternatives:
Both books lament the side effects of urinary leakage and loss of erections that can occur after standard therapies for cancer. But there are now targeted laser technologies and freezing techniques that have low risks of side effects, destroying tumors while preserving the prostate.