New prostate cancer test offers options

A new type of prostate cancer test will allow men more ability to weigh their options for treatment than ever before.

"The new test, which is called the Oncotype DX Prostate Cancer Test, is one of more than a dozen coming to market that use advanced genetic methods to help better manage prostate cancer," according to The New York Times. "The most direct competitor to the Oncotype test is likely to be the Prolaris test, introduced last year by Myriad Genetics."

I was diagnosed with very early stage prostate cancer about 5 years ago. I'm on the 'watchful waiting' regiment. That means no radiation, no surgery, no procedure to eradicate the cancer from my body. It also means I have a blood test every 90 days and once every 18 months I have a biopsy. The latter is not pleasant, but I endure it.

In medicine, there a lot of unknowns about how to determine who does and who doesn't need treatment. The University of Wisconsin estimates that somewhere between 50% and 60% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer never need treatment and will live a full lifespan. But again, there's no way to differentiate between the two scenarios in a person.

Watchful waiting has paid off very well for me, and it's how things are routinely done in Europe. In the United States, however, we're an action-oriented society and the assumption is that if you have cancer, you need to get it out of your body stat.

Yet treatments can have negative side effects, and not everybody requires treatment, as I've said. If you get an early stage diagnosis, there are potentially better and more conservative choices than immediate treatment.

So if you or someone you love is diagnosed with prostate cancer, you need to get the facts and react non-emotionally. These new tests will go a long way toward helping you do that. Of course if you have a serious diagnosis, your only decision is to pick which form of treatment to have.

But caught early, you have time to figure out your best option.  Don't allow yourself to be scared into premature treatment decisions.

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