Lots of men out there think they're taking care of themselves by getting an annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test and DRE (digital rectal exam) to screen for prostate cancer. But over the last 10 years, lots of MDs have raised questions about the effectiveness of these tests.
Do they really work? Do they save lives or subject men to needless biopsies that can cause sexual impairment and incontinence?
You see, lots of men get prostate cancer but don't have a high PSA number. And lots of men who experience spikes in their PSA numbers, don't really have cancer. The DRE is just as unreliable.
Well -- a few months back scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine confirmed just as much. Their results -- published in the New England Journal of Medicine -- were so striking, I'm hoping all the urologists out there will finally get their heads out of the sand and throw out their PSA/DRE testing once and for all.
WU scientists followed 76,000 men who received annual PSA and DRE testing between 1993 and 2001. (Data came from the US Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.) The scientists followed up with the men seven years later. And what did they discover?
They found that regular screening did turn up more cases of prostate cancer, but it did very little to reduce deaths from prostate cancer. In fact, according to senior study author Christine Berg, M.D., "There are men today who were diagnosed with prostate cancer, who now suffer from the side effects of treatment, and who would never have suffered from ill health or may have never died of the disease in the first place."
Wow -- if that's not an unequivocal bashing of regular screening for prostate cancer, I don't know what is!
Well -- fellas -- since regular screening isn't very useful, what's my suggestion? Keep up your overall health. Maintain a healthy weight. Go for a clean diet filled with fruits and vegetables. Take your daily multivitamins. And, of course, make sure to get plenty of natural (not synthetic) vitamin A!