PSA test was a life saver

To the editor: 

In response to the prostate health care editorial from July 16:

I am a prostate cancer survivor diagnosed in 2008 followed by a radical prostatectomy. I continue to have Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) tests twice a year. My PSA score has been at zero for four years, indicating no PSA is evident in my body thus far.

My family doctor watched my PSA scores for years. When the numbers began to rise, he recommended a prostate biopsy to determine if cancer was present. After the cancer diagnosis, I sought a second opinion and got the same recommendation.

If prostate cancer is detected early, the chances of long-term survival are good. If, however, detection is determined after the cancer has escaped the prostate, long-term survival drops dramatically.

So what is a guy to do in response to the recommendation that men should no longer get the PSA test? I stand with my urologist and US Too, a national support group for prostate cancer survivors. US Too recommends having annual prostate exams, which should include both a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam, starting at the age of 35 if you have a family history or are an Africa American man and by age 40 for all other men.

The past four years, I’ve participated in a cancer support group and have learned a great deal about the disease — its treatments and prevention. A PSA screening costs about $30, a prostate biopsy about $4,000. The PSA test isn’t perfect, and researchers are trying to find better tools. My urologist has begun using an MRI as a non-invasive alternative to the biopsy.

I’m grateful to my former and current family doctors and urologist, and to the support group for providing a community for talking about cancer.

Ultimately each of us is responsible for our own health.

Robert Kutter, Grey Eagle