It seems we have a national passion for prostate biopsies. A million men are biopsied every year. Two hundred thousand of them will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and about half of these with Low-Risk disease, a condition that can be safely monitored without immediate treatment. Even so, more than half of these men with Low-Risk will undergo prompt, radical treatment. Sadly, irrational fears rooted in the electrifying word “cancer” drive most men into taking immediate action.
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digital rectal exam
In May 2011, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on 695 men from Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, average age 65, who were randomly allocated to either immediate surgery or delayed hormone therapy (DHT) between 1989 and 1999. The median PSA for the 695 men was 13. Eighty percent of the men had palpable disease found during their digital rectal exam. In the men treated with DHT, hormone therapy was initiated if and when bone metastasis occurred. Bone scans were performed every other year.