Suspicious findings from prostate cancer screening are often followed by a procedure most men would prefer to avoid: a prostate biopsy. But what if biopsies actually could be avoided on the basis of non-invasive test results? Screening tests are moving in that direction, with some intriguing results. One of them, the Prostate Health Index blood test, combines measures of three forms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) into a score that helps doctors predict if a cancer is likely to progress, with an aim to circumvent biopsies that aren’t necessary.
Men diagnosed with slow-growing prostate tumors that likely won’t be harmful during their lifetimes can often avoid immediate treatment. Instead, they can have their tumor monitored using a strategy called active surveillance. With this approach, doctors perform periodic checks for tumor progression and start treatment only if the cancer begins to metastasize, or spread. Active […]
Fewer men are being given PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer. As screening rates have fallen, so have the number of prostate cancer diagnoses. This probably also means that fewer men are receiving potentially unnecessary treatment, with its attendant negative side effects. At the same time, it isn’t yet clear whether that comes at the cost of more aggressive cancers being caught at an incurable stage. Better screening tests may make the difference in helping strike the right balance between limiting harm and preventing prostate cancer deaths.
Active and retired servicemen with prostate cancer can get access to clinical trials, experimental therapies, and state-of-the-art care through the Department of Defense’s Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR).
Standard biopsies of the prostate gland often miss potentially aggressive prostate cancer. Adding MRI images to standard biopsies improves the detection of prostate cancer.
A study published in the journal European Urology suggests that men who have defects in a cancer-suppressing gene known as BRCA are at high risk for aggressive prostate tumors, and so could benefit from PSA testing.
With their ability to smell tiny amounts of chemicals, trained dogs can easily find explosives or illegal drugs hidden in a suitcase. But mounting evidence points to another helpful job for man’s best friend: finding prostate cancer before it causes any symptoms.
In many men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer cells grow so slowly that they never break free of the gland, spread to distant sites, and pose a serious risk to health and longevity. In others, cancer is fast growing and aggressive from the beginning. A new Harvard study shows that the aggressiveness of prostate cancer at diagnosis remains stable over time for most men.
Is it possible for a gene test to identify whether a prostate that’s healthy today is sure to develop cancer down the road? And should results of such a test be the basis for removing a seemingly healthy prostate gland? Those are questions raised by recent press reports of a British man who had his prostate gland removed because he carried a faulty gene called BRCA2.