Controversy has swirled around the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for years now.
In fact, overzealous doctors have used the results to justify overtreatment of what is ultimately a very common—and in many cases, not very aggressive—cancer.
But the truth is, no doctor should be making recommendations based on PSA results alone.
Those results are just one piece of a larger puzzle…
NO risky biopsies or surgeries
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that men are far more likely to die with prostate cancer rather than because of prostate cancer.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But for far too long, prostate cancer was so over-diagnosed and overtreated that a lot of men suffered from horrific side effects, like incontinence and impotence—when they would have been better off letting sleeping dogs lie.
The trick is figuring out who needs to be treated and who doesn’t. And now, new non-invasive tests can help make that decision without risky biopsies or unnecessary surgeries.
Research shows, for example, that urine levels of a polyamine called spermine are inversely associated with both prostate cancer and aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer (which, in this case, was defined by a Gleason score of 7 or higher).
When combined with PSA testing, spermine testing performed with a negative predictive value of nearly 97 percent cut the number of unnecessary biopsies in half.
(“Negative predictive value” refers to the likelihood that subjects who screen negative for prostate cancer truly don’t have the disease. The higher this number is, the better.)
Solid prediction rates
There’s another useful test out there called the PHI prostate cancer biomarker.
In combination with other parameters like PSA, this test was able to predict prostate cancer up to 85 percent of the time. And while it’s not perfect, it could cut the need for MRI by 25 percent… and reduce unnecessary biopsies by nearly 50 percent.
And finally, if your PSA level is high, ask your doctor for a PCA3 test (a simple urine test performed after prostate massage) and a 4K test (another blood test).
Both of these tests have proved critical in helping to give context to PSA results. (I personally use them with my patients to help make more accurate calls as to who needs a biopsy and who doesn’t.)
The bottom line? We may be better off than we were a decade ago in the fight against prostate cancer—but there are still way too many men out there whose lives are being ruined for no good reason.
But hopefully, with these new testing options, we’re that much closer to getting it right more often than not.
To learn more about how to defend yourself against prostate cancer, check out the June 2018 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“REVEALED: The real facts behind the latest ‘prostate panic'”). So if you haven’t already, consider becoming a subscriber. Click here now!
Until next week,
“Beyond PSA: New Prostate Cancer Screening Options.” Medscape Medical News, 08/07/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/935323)