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Prostate Cancer Blood Testing: Breakthrough Or Hoax?

    March 2, 2014
    Toni Matthews-El
    Comments are off for this post.

Prostate cancer is deadly to many men and is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Close to 250,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year.

One of the scariest aspects of prostate cancer is that there are often no early warning signs. A man could be walking around with the condition growing worse by the day, having no idea he desperately needs prostate cancer treatment.

Because current cancer testing is often not prostate cancer-specific, doctors often have to take the “long way round” in an effort to confirm the exact nature of a patient’s condition. The series of screenings take time, precious time that can potentially cost a man his life.

A new kind of blood test is currentlybeing researched in the United Kingdom that some are speculating will bring an end to this problem.

The study, which involves 191 men, is hoping to use prostate-specific antigen or PSA blood testing to determine which men are more susceptible to developing prostate cancer. Scientists detected certain gene mutations which they thought would make certain individuals more likely to have cancer: BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2, PALB2 and ATM. These gene mutations are also linked to the high risk of breast cancer in women.

It is hoped that as further testing is performed that eventually it will lead to tailored screenings to individual men, which will look at these patients according to their determined preexisting risk level.

Not everyone is convinced that this study can deliver the desired results. The New York Post is reporting that one man, Richard J. Ablin, has declared the series of tests a “hoax”. In his book, “The Great Prostate Hoax”, Albin discusses the type of testing being toted by UK researchers. Albin claims this research is just the latest in a type of pointless blood testing that goes back to 1970s.

According to Albin’s own research, he’s drawn the conclusion that this form of testing cannot detect cancer in patients and is ultimately a “useless” waste of time.

There seems to be some official research that backs up his argument.

A joint study of results from the US and Europe was published in the New England Journal of Medicine which said the following: “PSA-based screening results in small or no reduction in prostate cancer-specific mortality” In other words, the screening did nothing to save lives as far as the researchers could tell. A discouraging conclusion for a form of testing enjoying a bit of buzz at the moment.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • Bill

    For another view of this, read this link by another Doctor who has a different opinion:

    http://theprostatedecision.wordpress.com/about/my-letter-to-the-new-york-times-in-regards-to-richard-albin-discoverer-of-psa/

    __________________________________________________________________
    To be fully informed, look at both sides.

  • Dennis

    All I know is this: I had a prostate exam the old fashion way, with latex gloves. My Primary care provider noticed swelling and a “rough” surface on one side. They began testing my PSA over a period of months and it went from 2.3 to 9. They did a biopsy of the prostate, with 10 samples in all. Seven came back positive. I was given low radiation treatments over a 4 week period and two sessions of high radio-active iodine seeds. Today, seven years later, I am cancer free and have tests made every 6 months. Since the treatment, my PSA is 0.01. Hoax? Not from where I sit today.

    • burkosc

      Why at 2.3 did ya take another so soon, how many months ? 4-5 is
      considered the over and under, there is another ques, why so many
      samples, I counted 12, taken the PSA THREE times—was CLEAN
      in all ! Last was 11 yrs ago, up to 8 psa now — on —- the fence>.

      • philmire

        Hi burkosc had same thing and they found cancer. Get a biopsye now and it might save your life!

      • Dennis

        It was at 2.3 when my Primary did a rectal exam and found abnormal lumps on one side. They continued to do “waitful watching” over a period of about 6 months. When the PSA test came up over 9, they did a biopsy, taking 10 samples. Seven out of 10 were positive for cancer nearing the aggressive stage. My urologist gave me three options when he told me the news. 1) low radiation treatment, 2) low radiation for 4 weeks followed by two treatments of high radiated seeds, 3) take out the prostate. I chose option #2. As for the PSA number… it may be different for every one. It’s the rate of increase, not necessarily the number. I know of people with a PSA of 17! But, one lost his prostate, the other his life. I’m a disabled Vet and the VA took care of everything, and I’m extremely grateful for having such a compassionate and caring group of nurses and doctors to look after me. I know many are not covered by insurance or cannot afford insurance, but here in Florida we have Florida Health who will make sure the needy get the help they need. It’s a matter of choice. I made a choice based on good information. When I had questions, I got answers. We must look at all the options and choose. I did, and at 70 years-old I am still alive and in good health.

  • fred smith

    My father died of prostate cancer at the age of 72 back in 1991 so I have been watching treatments and “cures” since then. I am not a doctor. While the PSA test is not a 100% indicator it is a tool doctors can use to watch for prostate cancer along with a digital check which is also not 100%. Some prostate cancers develop slowly and the patient could die of other health issues before the slow growing cancer will kill them. Other cancers are aggressive. If there is prostate cancer in your family checks at least once a year are indicated. My belief is that ultrasound examinations might be beneficial.

  • philmire

    I wonder how many men will die because of articles like this! I found out I had cancer by regular PSA’s then a biop. when the test got up to 7. Any good Doctor will do a PSA when you have bloodwork. If not ask for one. Catch it early and save your life.

  • joe

    viet nam vet, psawent from 1.6 to 5.8 a 4 year period, va did a bioposy revealed prostate cancer, watched for 1 year, cancer showed increase after 2nd bioposy, went to mayo clinic for robotic surgery aug. 2012 , it had spread outside prostate,successful surgery , psa not detectable since, recommend any viet nam vet to contact the va as it is considered an agent orange condition, with va compensation due to the condition

  • alrotundo

    There is no epidemic of colon cancer in the Third World. Wanna know why? It’s because the people there don’t have toilets to sit on, instead they squat when they defecate, and it cleans out your colon better of the toxins and poisons.. We’ve all seen dogs squat and arch their backs when they poop – same idea. So get yourself a little footstool to put your feet up on when you go. Much healthier.

    • Dwight Fisher

      That is ridiculous. You can achieve the same position by leaning forward while sitting on the toilet and you do not need to buy a stool.
      Do you see the U.S on this chart? http://www.wcrf.org/cancer_statistics/data_specific_cancers/colorectal_cancer_statistics.php
      There is no epidemic there that we know of because their healthcare system is not as widespread as ours and it is under reported. They also have a higher mortality rate and die much younger than we do.

      • alrotundo

        That puts too much pressure on the back. Just elevate your feet. You’ll see the difference.

  • Dwight Fisher

    Get that prostate check and if you are over 50, black or have a family history also get the PSA test. When they find a cure that is not surgical we can stop.

  • alrotundo