NEW ORLEANS - It's the most common cancer in men and the most common cause of death in men after lung cancer.
"Two hundred fifty thousand new cases a year, 40,000 people unnecessarily die from prostate cancer," said Touro Urologist Dr. Neil Baum.
But a newer test for prostate cancer can take some of the guesswork out of the diagnosis and the proper treatment to have.
Dr. Baum says men have relied on the office physical exam, called the digital rectal exam, and the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test, to see if they had signs of prostate cancer. But he says the PSA can be elevated even without cancer.
"People with just a large prostate or people with prostate infections could have an elevated PSA and not have cancer," explained Dr. Baum.
Now there is a more specific test for men who have an elevated PSA or suspicious physical exam. It's called the PCA3 and it will not be elevated in men with a benign, enlarged prostate or an infection.
It can be used in two ways.
"The PCA3 test can be used for the man who has an elevated PSA who's not really sure he wants to have a biopsy," said Dr. Baum. "In the past, we only knew they had prostate cancer, but we didn't know the degree of aggressiveness of the cancer. PCA3 can significantly help the man decide to go into the watchful waiting group or make the decision to proceed to treatment."
And men need not worry about needles or uncomfortable probing physical exams with this.
"One more thing about the PCA3 test that I think is worthy of mention, it's not even a blood draw. It's a urine test," he explained.
This test was FDA approved earlier this year, but still there are people who don't know about it.
Private insurance pays for it, as well as Medicare.