Much PC (prostate cancer) is not diagnosed until symptoms apparent to the patient have appeared. By that time cells have often produced secondaries and may have spread to sites around the body.
Tests to establish a PC presence are a blood test PSA. A DRE digital rectal examination. A biopsy of the prostate, and various scans which can establish the location of cancer cells.
In the USA and some other countries there is emphasis on early diagnosis, early radical treatment.
This is not universally approved of in the medical world. Many feel that as the existing radical treatments have had no long term randomised clinical trials to show that they prolong life over and above watchful waiting and treating when symptoms appear, they should not be used. It is obvious that if radical treatment such as prostate removal is given to a patient then that patient may, for the rest of his life, suffer from the side effects of such treatment. This problem occurs across the current treatments for prostate cancer. So each man has to balance the possible life span ahead of him and if he is prepared to 'gamble' a possiblity of a longer life against the side effects that the treatment can produce. Some of which can be pretty drastic.
It should be borne strongly in mind that most early detected prostate cancer cells will not kill the patient. He will in most cases live out his life span with no side effects. Bear in mind that the immune system is geared up to 'kill' cancer cells so a strong, effective immune system is a must.
What we say is that each man should gain knowledge about P.C., about the tests, all the current treatments with their side effects and possible outcomes. Then and only then should a decision be made to have a PSA test.
This test may seem minor in the general scheme of things but it is the first step on the road which can lead to radical treatment. Without knowledge a man may regret any steps he may make along that road. So first - knowledge - then decision and that means before any PSA test !
Read books and internet sites. The PHA book 'Prostate Cancer' is a good first step.
Inclusion of links is NOT an endorsement by the Prostate Help Association (2003), nor do we guarantee any information you will find, other than our own. We would remind everyone that they should discuss with their medical team all aspects of their condition and then come to a decision in regard to the best treatment for their condition. Prostate Help Ltd t/a Prostate Help Association (2003)