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Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor

Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

October 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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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As long as the PSA test only involves a blood draw, I'll stick with it. It's deciding what to do with the results that might be a...  Posted on October 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM by respect. Jump to comment
Medicare pays $25.89 for the PSA test. My PSA was 5.04 and 8 of the 12 biopsies were positive. To hell with what the so called experts say, get...  Posted on October 10, 2011 at 8:48 AM by Porch Potato. Jump to comment
Would someone identify labs or providers where you can get a PSA test less than $50.  Posted on October 10, 2011 at 6:32 AM by AShepherd99. Jump to comment

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