Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Prostate cancer test
Posted by Letters editor
Testing best method for early detection
The U.S. government is putting the lives of thousands at risk by eliminating the option of prostate-cancer testing for all American men. [“Healthy men shouldn’t get prostate test, key panel says,” page one, Oct. 7.]
This action will kill people. People you know. It would have killed me.
According to ZERO — The Project to End Prostate Cancer, “The PSA test and advances in treatment have led to a 40 percent reduction in prostate-cancer deaths since the mid-1990s, according to the National Cancer Institute. Because of the PSA test, 90 percent of all prostate cancers are now discovered before they spread outside the gland, according to the American Cancer Society’s own data.”
PSA testing is not perfect, but it’s the best we have right now. Without PSA testing, there is no mechanism for early detection of prostate cancer, leaving thousands of men vulnerable and unprepared to fight the disease.
A decision on how best to test and treat for prostate cancer must be made between a man and his doctor. I urge the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the U.S. government that appointed the panel to reconsider this rash decision that leaves men without the ability to protect their health.
The panel as it currently exists does not even have a prostate-cancer expert as a member, and it’s headed by a pediatrician. I urge men, their physicians and their families to ignore the recommendation of this misguided panel. Doing so might just save your life and the lives of some of those you love.
— Earnie Glazener, Kirkland
Life owed to prostate-cancer tests, treatments
Throughout Friday’s news story on why the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test is unnecessary in seemingly healthy men, medical doctors are quoted as saying the PSA in and of itself indicates the presence or absence of cancer.
It does not!
A high PSA reading is, however, an indicator that it would be wise to either retest, because various infections can elevate the PSA number, or consider a biopsy, which would indicate either the absence of or the presence of cancer cells. If a malignancy is found, it is graded to determine whether surgery, radiation or watchful waiting is the best option.
PSA tests and biopsies are quick and easy. They do not cause either impotence or incontinence.
Furthermore, the removal of a diseased prostate gland by a skilled surgeon, using modern techniques, rarely results in impotence or incontinence. My cancerous prostate gland was removed almost 20 years ago. At age 85, I have no physical problems and am able to play a weekly singles tennis match.
Like hundreds of thousands of men all across the country, I credit my life to the PSA.
— Don Duncan, Kirkland
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