Why every man should know his PSA Velocity in the fight against prostate cancer in Kingston, New York

The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 1 in 6, which is higher than the 1 in 8 risk of breast cancer in women.  Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men, right behind lung cancer.

Most men know that the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is a good screening test to check for prostate cancer for men 50 years of age and older.  Conventional wisdom is that a PSA over 2.6 ng/mL warrants a biopsy of the prostate, while a lower PSA value suggests you are not at risk for prostate cancer.  A biopsy of the prostate gland is the only way to confirm or rule out prostate cancer.

Not so fast, my friend.  Medical studies in the last two years suggest that the PSA value may not be the most important factor in determining the likelihood that you have prostate cancer.  Just as important (if not more important) is the PSA Velocity. 

What is the PSA Velocity?

PSA Velocity refers to the speed of change of PSA over time and a rapid rise of PSA suggests the presence of prostate cancer, even when the PSA score is relatively low.

For example, last week you have a routine screening PSA test that reveals a PSA of 2.0 ng/kL.  You breathe a sigh of relief thinking you have nothing to worry about.  Right?  Not so fast.  A year ago your PSA level was 1.0 ng/mL and the year before it was 0.5  ng/mL.  These results should worry your doctor.  A rise in the PSA level of 0.35 ng/mL a year "may be a cause of concern" even in men with low PSA's, according to the American Cancer Society.

No single value of PSA is as important as the PSA Velocity. The PSA Velocity is a more powerful indicator of eventual recovery or death from prostate cancer than the actual PSA level itself. The rapid rise in the PSA score is a sign that the prostate cancer is particularly aggressive and some men with a high PSA Velocity will require more than a radical prostatectomy to prevent prostate cancer death.

What you can do to check your PSA Velocity

For starters, you should have a baseline PSA at age 40.  At age 40, most men have a PSA that is somewhere around 0.6.  You should get annual PSA tests and keep track of your PSA levels.  Remember, your doctor sees thousands of patients a year and he may overlook the fact that your PSA has been increasing rapidly.  You should alert your doctor to any trends you notice in your PSA levels.

If your next annual PSA test shows a PSA of 1.4, you should not wait a year to get checked again.  Even though it looks as though the PSA (less than 2.6) is not high enough to warrant a biopsy, you have had a significant rise in your PSA level that warrants more frequent screening for prostate cancer.  The rapid rise in PSA suggests the presence of prostate cancer. 

Your high PSA Velocity (rapid doubling time of PSA or a rise of 0.35 ng/mL or more per year) may signal a rapidly growing cancer regardess of how high the PSA is. The best approach is to test early for a baseline PSA at age 40 and test every year thereafter to recognize a rapidly rising PSA.

Do you want more information?

If you want more information or have questions, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882.  You can always request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website, www.protectingpatientrights.com.  If you are a woman, make sure you pass this article along to your husband, father, brother or son--they will appreciate your concern for them.