NEW ORLEANS – A new prostate cancer test is giving men a better chance of having the disease detected.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in U.S. men. Each year, one million prostate biopsies are performed, but three-quarters reveal no cancer. The new test fills the gap between the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and biopsy.
"Emotionally, it's really something when someone says cancer," patient Richard Schwartz said in August 2014.
Doctors agree nothing is more important than diagnosing prostate cancer early before it spreads. That's when it's most treatable. Regular, physical exams of the prostate and PSA blood tests are important, but the tests are not perfect.
"The PSA test is controversial because a lot of times when you get an elevated PSA, men get poked and prodded and get extra biopsies that they may not need, because the PSA test isn't the most specific test," said Dr. Harry Fisch, a board certified urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
Specialists want to make sure men and their doctors know about the new 4Kscore Test. It's a simple blood test, but much more sophisticated than the PSA. It takes into account your prostate exam, if there's a nodule, if you were biopsied before, and your age. It assesses your chance of having an aggressive form of prostate cancer and may help to eliminate multiple biopsies. Doctors said family history is important.
"If you're an African-American male, if you do get prostate cancer, it tends to be more aggressive, but if you have a family member that has died of prostate cancer, oh boy, go to your doctor in your 30s," said Dr. Fisch.
He said that whatever your history is, don't put off your annual exam.
"Men take care of their cars better than they take care of their own health,” Dr. Fisch said. “So if you're taking your car in for a tune-up, guess what, take yourself to see the doctor for an evaluation."
Since all health insurance plans are different, check with yours to see if it covers the 4Kscore Test. One local expert said the test helps, but should not be the only test used to determine your treatment.
(© 2016 WWL)