Random thoughts from flyover country

Wednesday, June 20

Quick cancer follow-up

After six weeks of convalescence from my surgery, I returned to work. My supervisor said he was going to give me a slow and easy post until I got my strength back completely. That lasted from 0700 hours to 0900 hours when he came to my post with another officer to replace me. Then he took me to a much busier, more visible, more active post. And his idea of taking it slow? I only worked fifty-five hours that first week. Since then, I've averaged around fifty-three hours a week with a peak of sixty-three and a half hours. Well, I was bored sitting around the house.

Okay, I promised an update when I posted this, so here goes. The results of my lab work showed a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 0.0 (undetectable), which is to be expected since I don't have a prostate anymore. This is, boys and girls, a very good thing because it indicates that the cancer was fully encapsulated in my prostate and had not metastasized. So, every three months during this first year, I'll get checked out. It'll be every four months the second year, and then every six months for years three through five. At the end of five years, if nothing pops up in the meantime, I'll be considered cured.
The bad news is that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises against PSA screening. They have all sorts of reasons that don't address the fundamental fact that prostate cancer in younger men (younger than 75 years of age) will likely kill them within 15 years or less of diagnosis if left untreated, and the last few years won't be a picnic. Interestingly, there are no oncologists or urologists on the panel. If my primary care physician followed the task force's recommendation, my rapidly increasing PSA wouldn't have been noted, and I wouldn't have been sent to a urologist for a consultation. Without that consultation and recommendation for a biopsy, my cancer would not have been diagnosed until I couldn't urinate due to a rapidly enlarging prostate (which was already somewhat enlarged) or my bones started hurting because that's where prostate cancer goes. The end result of following this task force's recommendation would have cost me my life.

Guys, this is not for sissies. Get regular check-ups, and, when you get them, insist that you get your PSA levels checked. If they are rising or high already, have your doctor refer you to a urologist for further screening and possibly a biopsy. The PSA test isn't a good way to check for prostate cancer, but it's all we have right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Trolls need not apply. Watch your language.