Using a statistical argument, a government panel recommends that healthy men of all ages skip PSA testing (“Healthy men told to skip prostate test: Panel underscores risks of PSA exam,” Page A1, May 22). Here is the problem: Most prostate cancers grow slowly, which supports an argument that a man will die of something else well before this cancer gets him. However, there are also fast-growing versions of prostate cancer that can be lethal to men of any age when undetected.
I began yearly PSA testing is my 50s. When I was 57, my doctor noticed that my usually low PSA number had doubled over the previous two years. Retesting in six months showed a 50 percent increase, with another large increase three months later. Over four years my PSA never did anything but increase quickly.
A biopsy confirmed significant cancer, and I had my prostate removed. For 10 years now my PSA test result has been “undetectable.” I’m left thinking that the recommended no-testing policy should take into account that there is apparently still no dependable way to determine which kind of cancer a man might have.
However, a steady, aggressive increase in PSA over a few years suggests that something is happening quickly. Without PSA testing and an attentive doctor, I might well not be here today to have written this letter.