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Can You Live Without A PSA Test?

Can You Live Without A PSA Test?


Can You Live Without A PSA Test?

by Leonard Z Sennish

Annual prostate screening is a two part event. First you've got the DRE or digital rectal exam that everyone is so fond of. NOT! But at least it doesn't have many detractors. And there's the blood work that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen, or PSA for short, present in your blood. The amount of which, and how fast it's increasing, is taken as an indicator of prostate cancer.

Some would argue the PSA test is a no brainer. Others point out recent studies that show no reduction in prostate cancer mortality from early detection. Plus there's a lot of unwarranted treatment going on. Leaving some to ask whether to even worry about the PSA test in the first place.

What's best for you likely is dependent on such things as your age, how healthy you are and your family history when it comes to prostate cancer.

Then there are quality of life issues to be considered too.

Is knowing better than not knowing? Some would say yes - as what you don't know might kill you.

Others would say since it's not going to kill you anyway so why bother? You can live out your life blissfully unaware of what's going on in your prostate since it won't matter anyhow. Free from the nagging worries about what the cancer is doing today running through your mind you can enjoy life.

Who's to say who is right?

Problem is, as Yogi Berra might have put it "You don't know what you don't know". The idea behind the test it to put you ahead of the curve, or in this case, the disease. So you can get it while the gettings good - if need be. Meaning you have the most treatment options that offer you the best possible outcomes.

Plus if you don't have results to make an informed decision haven't you've made a decision by default? Which is to say for some that would be to wait for death.

Can we really say that you are worse off with what is sometimes imperfect information than you would be with none at all?

Perhaps the lesson is there is no one right answer for everyone. Leaving you free to weigh the benefits vs risks of knowing or not for yourself. Since any decision involving detection and treatment of prostate cancer comes down to individual preferences.

Taking a step further back, rather than debating whether or not to get the PSA test maybe it would be better to discuss what you should do next. Including learning how you can best monitor what's going on with your prostate so you could make better decisions along the way rather than letting things happen by default. Or being forced to agonize over choices that offer no good options.

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