Dear Dr. Mirkin:
Should I get a PSA test that screens men for prostate cancer?
Answer: I don’t recommend it. Dr. Richard Ablin, who discovered PSA in 1970, says the test should be given only to:
1. follow a man who has already been treated for prostate cancer and
2. screen men with an extensive family history of prostate cancer. (1)
The vast majority of prostate cancers are harmless. They grow so slowly that they never cause trouble. PSA screens millions of men. Those with an elevated PSA are sent for biopsy. Those who are diagnosed with cancer are almost always pushed into surgery, intensive radiation or other damaging treatments.
An American study shows that over 10 years, screening did not reduce the death rate in men 55 and over. Dr. Ablin writes: “A European study showed that 48 men need to be treated to save one life. That’s 47 men who, in all likelihood, can no longer function sexually or stay out of the bathroom for long.”
1. New York Times, March 9, 2010
A practicing physician for more than 40 years and a radio talk show host for 25, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology.
Dr. Mirkin's latest book is The Healthy Heart Miracle, published by HarperCollins. His daily short features on fitness have been heard on CBS Radio News stations since the 1970's.
He has written 16 books including The Sportsmedicine Book, the best-selling book on the subject that has been translated into many languages. Dr. Mirkin did his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and over the years he has served as a Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, and Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Read more at www.drmirkin.com.
Latest posts by Dr. Gabe Mirkin (see all)
- Making a Move to Avoid Diabetes and Heart Attacks - September 5, 2011
- Diet Don’ts and Diverticulitis? - August 10, 2011
- The Cooking Method that Could Lead to Cancer and Heart Disease - August 3, 2011