Lewis W. had everything going for him. Recently remarried to the love of his life with a job he enjoyed and was good at it. He had so much to look forward to. But about a year into his new marriage, something didn’t feel right. He wasn’t as interested in sex as a newlywed might usually be and he was struggling to be the husband he wanted to be. His wife, thinking he had lost interest, moved on, leaving Lewis alone again at 53. During the following year he dealt with a divorce and during that time went to the doctor for a checkup. During the visit he mentioned his marital difficulties, not thinking that they were relevant to his health, other than the stress that a divorce carries. His doctor surprised him a few days later with the news that his PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels were very high. The normal range, his doctor told him, is below 4.0 ng/mL, but the normal, baseline range for each man varies so Lewis’s PSA serum level was not necessarily a danger signal, but really a trigger for additional testing.
PSA serum levels can provide an indication of one’s risk of prostate cancer, but alone, are not enough to diagnose cancer. When levels rise above 10.0 ng/mL the probability of cancer increases dramatically. Accompanied by a digital rectal exam, PSA levels can be used to make a decision regarding whether additional testing and/or a biopsy is needed. (more…)