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January 2009 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights Improved PSA Tests, Dry Eyes and Colds
Date:1/20/2009

ROCHESTER, Minn., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Here are highlights from the January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit www.HealthLetter.MayoClinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 800-333-9037, extension 9771.

Improved PSA Tests a Better Gauge of Prostate Cancer Risk

A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can't diagnose prostate cancer, but results indicate the risk of cancer. According to the January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, recent fine-tuning of this test gives doctors better information to help determine cancer risk.

PSA is a substance produced in the prostate gland. Normally, a small amount of PSA enters the bloodstream. A higher amount or an abrupt rise in PSA levels can indicate a problem, possibly cancer.

However, PSA results aren't specific; that is, a high PSA indicates increased risk of cancer, but not the presence of cancer. Nor does the risk information indicate how quickly a potential cancer might be growing. Most prostate cancers are slow growing. For older men, a slow-growing cancer may not cause symptoms and may never need treatment.

While not perfect, annual PSA testing, along with a digital rectal exam, remains the best option to detect prostate cancer early. Ask your physician about these recent refinements in PSA testing:

PSA velocity: This charts the change in PSA levels over time. PSA levels tend to increase more quickly in men who have prostate cancer than those with other prostate conditions. For example, an enlarged prostate, a benign condition,
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