Saturday, October 15, 2016

Early Diagnosis

My primary care physician believes in the value of PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests as part of a routine semi-annual review of blood test results. My PSA scores drifted gradually upward, and when they crossed the 4.0 threshold in January, 2014, he referred me to a urologist to find out why.

I had no family history of prostate cancer, and for years the DREs (digital rectal exams) had been negative. Still, after ruling out a prostate infection, and seeing my PSA rise to 4.6, my urologist thought I should have a prostate biopsy to make sure there was no cancer. On February 12, 2015, he did a standard 12-core biopsy. It made use of a rectal probe and required only numbing--no anesthesia. It was uncomfortable, but not really painful, and didn't take long.

After a couple of weeks I got the results: several small cancerous and suspicious areas, resulting in a Gleason score of 3+4 = 7. That's only a little bit worrisome, and rather than immediate treatment I chose "active surveillance" That sounds more proactive than "wait and see what happens."

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