I agree that this is the kind of journalistic writing that states the facts half way and gives the impression that since PSA testing does have limits, we should ignore it or wait for somthing better to come along.
The PSA test has only been around for about 20 years--God bless the researchers who developed it--and is still undergoing refinements. It has saved countless lives by picking up prostate cancer by early detection.
I am a case in point of both the PSA controversy and early detection via PSA. My PSA quadrupled in one year, from 0.6 to 2.6. The digital rectal exam was negative. My physician advised a wait of 3 months to retest.
The retest gave similar PSA results, so my primary care physician referred me to a urologist. He said that recent studies have shown that though PSA may be within normal range, the PSA velocity as shown by my fourfold increase was cause for follow-up.
I asked him what the chances were that it was cancer. He told me about 10% to 20%. So,for men with my results, only 1 or 2 out of 10 had cancer. He recommended a biopsy, which turned out positive.
The rest is history. I am thankful that my physician was courageous enough to buck the AMA's lack of support for PSA testing (They claim it has not been shown to reduce prostate cancer deaths, which shows their thinking is a lot of statistical smoke-and-mirrors.)
Just as the PSA test has been a useful tool in prostate cancer diagnosis, there will be better tools developed as research into prostate cancer continues. Research is being done to develop a prostate cancer vaccine. Our sons and grandsons may not have to deal with this scourge.
I am hopeful that someday prostate cancer will be conquered. In the meantime, it saddens me that reporting in the general press often distorts the real facts. I continue to give the message to others to get tested for PSA, beginning with a baseline at age 40. Right now, it is the best screening tool we have.
Age 59 PSA 2.6 (PSA velocity--quadrupled in 1yr) 1 of 12 biopsy cores positive
Bilateral nerve-sparing open RRP 6/21/06 Gleason 5
Cancer confined to prostate, post-op PSA's non-detectable