The American Cancer Society estimates that each year over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United States. Approximately 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime, and 1 in 34 will die as a result. Early detection and treatment are key in the battle against prostate cancer, and approximately 1.8 million American men are now listed as survivors. The typical method for detecting prostate cancer is the combination of a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test to determine the level of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).
PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland that is measurable through laboratory analysis. Screening for PSA will measure the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood and is one of the best methods available for monitoring overall prostate health. An excess amount of PSA could be an indication of a serious health problem and should be further evaluated by a physician.
While PSA screening has been recommended for nearly 20 years for all men over 50, in 2009 the guidelines changed. The most recent American Urological Association (AUA) recommendation is to establish a PSA baseline at the age 40. An annual PSA test is then recommended to monitor changes in results. An earlier baseline may lead to faster detection and more favorable treatment.
The baseline PSA is important because many prostate cancer experts now consider not only the PSA level, but how fast it is changing when determining whether to: order further tests, start treatment, or inform patients about prognosis. Numerous studies have now shown that a high PSA velocity (for example, rapid doubling time of PSA or a rise of 0.35 ng/mL or more per year) may signal a rapidly growing cancer regardless of how high the absolute PSA level is.
In addition to annual physical exams, there are an increasing number of ways for men to conveniently get access to the testing:
- Employer sponsored screenings
- Hospital outreach programs
- Mobile Screening Clinics
- Local Pharmacy Screenings
Geonostics has made the process of collecting blood samples in specialty situations easier than ever. Through the use of customized collection kits, a four drop micro-sample specimen can be collected by health care professionals or directly through patients’ self-collection. Providers, as well as patients, appreciate the ease and convenience of finger stick collection and with multiple transportation options, samples can be shipped to our lab from almost anywhere in the world.
PSA screening plays an important role in early prostate cancer detection. Increased awareness and ease of access to screening are key. The importance of PSA testing has never been greater, and now that testing is easier than ever.