In the past six months, I've learned a lot more about prostate cancer than I ever thought I would know, or need to know. I've been PSA tested, biopsied, operated on, and have recovered from surgery, but am still facing my first PSA test at the end of the month. I visit this site several times a day and have come to see what a terrible disease PCa really is.
I happen to work part-time at a local funeral home. In the two and a half years I've been there, I've helped out at the visitations for several men younger than myself whose families said the cause of their deaths was prostate cancer (they were in their early 60's.
Those funerals got me thinking how little I knew about PCa, and finally convinced me to think harder about my rising PSA scores, which had gone from the 3 range to the low 6 range. My family doctor basically said I absolutely needed to get to a urologist for a DRE and a biopsy, which is what I did.
But the average guy doesn't see death the same way as does someone who helps out at af funeral home. Death for most of us is more distant, and I find myself wondering how much the average American male knows about prostate cancer, PSA numbers, and all the other information that becomes so important after being diagnosed.
If I were just a 65-year-old guy in good health, prostate cancer wouldn't be on my radar screen. What I have heard about it has mostly been from television and print journalism, and the reports that I remember generally have told me that the PSA test is unreliable, that it leads to unnecessary worry, that men are being over-diagnosed, and that a high number probably means BPH. I honestly can't think of a single news report that would lead me to take what I now consider appropriate action to be on guard for prostate cancer. Having a doctor who insisted on an annual PSA test, and having the part-time job where I saw death from the disease is what provided my motivation to have the DRE and eventually the biopsy.
If the trend is to do away with routine screening, then it's more than ever incumbent upon each male, working with his family physician, to decide if he needs the PSA test. Of course, if insurers or Medicare stop paying for routine screening, that complicates the situation further.
Sorry about the long post here. What I'm really wondering is whether anyone has any source that shows what the "average" American male knows about prostate cancer. I had no idea how ignorant I was. Are most men equally ignorant?