Cancer Screenings-2/24/13

Dr. Jeffrey Starke, a tuberculosis specialist, became a patient himself when his PSA levels, a marker for prostate cancer, edged up slightly on two different occasions. Each time his doctor urged a biopsy. Dr. John Santa Consumer Reports “Elevated PSA levels don’t necessarily mean cancer is present. But such levels can scare men into undergoing riskier tests.” Dr. Jeffrey Starke Starke did take that risk and says the second biopsy almost killed him. Dr. Jeffrey Starke “I became very, very sick with what is called sepsis, which is a bacterial infection that landed me in the hospital for four days.” Dr. Jeffrey Starke No cancer was found in either biopsy. Dr. John Santa “Even when prostate cancer is found it may not become dangerous. And the fact is, treatment itself can cause serious side effects.” Consumer Reports does not recommend PSA tests for most men as the latest evidence shows this test does not significantly reduce deaths. And unless you are at high risk there are other cancer screenings Consumer Reports does not recommend, including ones for pancreatic, lung, ovarian or skin cancer, among others.
Dr. John Santa “However, there are three tests we analyzed that are well worth getting, but it does depend on your age.” Colon-cancer screening is very likely to be beneficial for people ages 50 to 75. And Consumer Reports recommends it. Also recommended: mammograms for women ages 50 to 74 every other year. Pap smears for women ages 21 to 65 but only every three years. Dr. John Santa “These are guidelines for the general population. If you have a family history or medical factors that put you at higher risk, work with your doctor to determine the cancer screenings you need and when to have them.” .”