What's key is whether the level of prostate-specific antigen is rising rapidly
SUNDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- For several years, doctors have debated the value of the prostate-specific antigen test to determine a man's risk for prostate cancer.
But now, a consensus seems to be emerging -- it's not the level of the antigen in the blood that helps predict the likelihood of aggressive disease, but whether that level is rising rapidly or not.
Men with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels that are growing rapidly -- even if those levels are still low -- should consider themselves at increased risk, said Howard Soules, executive vice president for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research.
"Right now, if your PSA velocity is going up at an extreme rate, you need some additional monitoring for prostate cancer," Soules said.
The prostate gland, which produces seminal fluid, is part of the male reproductive system and is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows, and when healthy is about the size of a walnut.
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the American Cancer Society. Only skin cancer is more common, and only lung cancer kills more men.
The cancer society estimates there will be about 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2007, and about 27,050 men will die of the disease. Of every three men diagnosed with cancer each year, one is diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Despite its prevalence, prostate cancer is quite survivable. Overall, 99 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer live at least five years, according to the cancer society. And 92 percent survive at least a decade, and 61 percent at leas
All rights reserved