Things a doctor would not do….have a prostate cancer test
PSA is a “simple” blood test to check for prostate cancer. Know what it stands for? Prostate Specific Antigen. Or rather, as many doctors will tell you, Persistent Stress and Anxiety.
Prostate cancer is far more common – and, usually, less serious – than most people realise. In elderly men, it’s virtually a state of normality. Most of these prostate cancers lie dormant and harmless, and are something men die with, not of. So having a PSA may end up giving you information you would have been better off not knowing. That’s if you can trust the result: it’s notorious for inaccuracies, with false positives, false negatives and an inability to distinguish between harmless pussycat prostate cancers and the less common aggressive tigers.
Which is why, when men ask for the test, they’re potentially opening Pandora’s box. We try to guide them through the maze of ifs, buts and maybes. Sure, in theory it could save your life. But in practice it could well lead to worry, unpleasant biopsies and unnecessary, traumatic surgery.
Tony Copperfield, GP and author of Sick Notes