I’ve known about the new marker Breast Test (BT test) that has identified a group of 5 inflammatory/tumor markers that can signal the presence of breast cancer…improving the detection of breast cancer in conjuntion with the usuall mammographic imaging, but men have not had any signficiant improvements in the detection of prostate cancer …until now. We have a glimmer of something to look forward to other than PSA levels. PSA levels in the detection of prostate cancer in men has had its clinical challenges and most recently the US Preventive task force even stated that the PSA should not be used for routinue screening in men.
So, why has the PSA levels been challenging for doctors and patient?
The task force concluded from two large studies that over a period of 10 years, one prostate cancer death at most was saved from PSA screening for every 1,000 men screened.
The test finds many cancers that are not life-threatening, and treatment causes side effects from surgery and radiation such as impotence and urinary incontinence. The harms weighed against benefit aren’t enough to justify the screen, the task force concluded.
But some doctors say the answer is to change the way that prostate cancer is handled in this country.
When a biopsy reveals cancer, 90% of men are treated — even though most prostate cancers won’t threaten a man’s life.
However, the word CANCER evokes fear in even the most calm and reseasonable person…..no-one wants to know that they have a cancer brewing in their body. But in fact, many of us die with cancers that are only found on autospy. Not all cancers are going to kill us……or kill us quickly.
Which cancers to treat:
Prostate cancer experts aren’t perfect about figuring out which cancers need treating and which can be carefully watched.
When a biopsy is taken, the cells are examined under the microscope and the cancer cells are given a so-called Gleason score based on the shape of the cells. Gleasons of 8, 9 and 10 need to be treated, he says. Six or less, probably not.
Patients should do everything possible to get themselves to a center of excellence for treatment. Treatment side effects — urinary incontinence, impotence and bowel problems — are in the double digits across the U.S. but are “substantially” lower at centers of excellence, There are good non surgical options that include high frequency ultrasound and proton therapy.
However, it is hopeful that with the advent of this new biomarker techology…..Mayo have found a way to better tell us which cancers we should aggressively pursue and which should we should. However, I suspect this is a way off….this marker just may tell us if the cancer is present unlike PSA levels which cannot at this time.