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PSA

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Iíve been writing this column for over twenty years. It currently goes out to over eighty newspapers and about ten e-zines around the country. In addition to these publications, a number of folks log onto my web site each week and download my column to send to other people around the world. I have no idea how many people actually read what I have to say each week.

I do know that about the time I get ready to hang it up, Iíll get a letter from someone who has read my post of the week and just wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed it or offer some other viewpoint to be considered. These mean a lot to me and I thank you for them.

In addition to these columns I try and send out a personal note every few days with a quotation of the day, a new recipe and some lyrics to songs weíve all heard at one time or another. Itís always amazing to me to see the actual words in printÖ.what Iím singing is often no even close to how the real words are written.

Anyway, last week those people on my recipe, quote, lyric blurb got a message from me saying something like Ö Ďgood news, my PSA went down from a 4.3 to a 3.5í.

I was surprised as to how many e-mails I received wanting to know exactly what a PSA was. It is not a college score.

So, I thought I would take a moment to explain to both the ladies who read my stuff as well as to any men who are unaware of what a PSA score is and why it is important. PSA stands for prostate-specific-antigen test. To understand exactly what the test is and why it is important go to http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Detection/PSA for more information.

I can tell you that if you are a male and over 50 years old, you should know what your PSA score is and if it is rising or not. I am not a doctor so I wonít try to tell you what your individual number should be or should not be. I will tell you that the numbers as well as the time for those numbers to increase is important to your health. Three years ago, my PSA was at a 2.8 and in a little over twenty four months (about this time last year) it went to a 4.3. Some said this wasnít bad and others said it was. My doctor started talking about biopsies and methods of treatment if it turned out to be cancer.

I didnít want the biopsies and I didnít want cancer. So, I started reading books on ways to get this under control, if at all possible. My wife and I must have bought six or seven books and read them all trying to find something that might give us some instructions on what to do. Friends of mine who had cancer offered various suggestions, none of which in my opinion were of much help. It seemed to me that the treatments for prostate cancer were all over the board and there were success stories and failures with each one. My wife was taken with one book which specified a specific regime of vitamins and supplements. In September I took another PSA test and it had remained a 4.3. At least it wasnít increasing, but were the vitamins and stuff having any real effect?

I waited six more months and then went back for another blood test and agonized over the week between the test and my visit to the doctor. Last week, when I went in to see him, he told me that the test score had decreased to a 3.5. I cannot tell you what a relief that was to me. I donít have to go back for another year.

So, the point of all of this is, this stuff is scary and you should not mess around with it. You need to know what your score is and keep an eye on it to make certain it is not rising. I have too much to get done and too many things I want to see before I check out of this old life.

Besides, what would you have to read if I wasnít here?
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

April 3, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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