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Prostate Cancer Does Not Discriminate

Getting screened for prostate cancer is not glamorous, it’s not enviable, and it’s certainly not something young men dream about. However, it is necessary to get one in order to prevent serious health risks. Here is some information on what you need to know about the PSA test.

What is the PSA Test?
PSA , or prostrate specific antigen, is a protein that is produced by the cells in the prostrate gland. The level of PSA in the blood is often elevated in men with prostrate cancer. Men who report prostate symptoms are subject to PSA testing to determine what is causing their problem. The test is done in combination with a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Who Should Get a PSA Test?
Traditionally, doctors have recommended yearly PSA screening beginning at the age of 50. Some recommended that men at a higher risk, including African American men and those with prostate cancer in their family history, begin the screening at 40 or 45. However, due to recent revelations about the potential benefits and harms associated with the screening, some organizations have begun to argue that a man who is considering testing should be informed in detail about the possible outcomes. The test is covered by Medicare and most private insurers.

What Are the Possible Harms or Limitations of a PSA Screening?
Early prostate cancer protection may not reduce the risk of dying from the disease. PSA screenings may detect small tumors that grow too slowly to become life threatening. Detecting these tumors is called an “over diagnosis” and treating them is called “over treatment.” Over treatment can expose meant to harmful side effects of the treatment, including urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and problems with bowel function.

Doctor and patient

Tests may give false positives or false negatives. A false positive test can occur if a man’s PSA level is high.but no cancer is present. This is the case with most men; only about 25% of men who have an elevated PSA level test positive for cancer.

What Should You Do If Your Screening test shows a high PSA level?
Usually doctors recommend that a man showing an elevated PSA level have another screening to confirm the results. If the level is still high, the doctor will probably suggest that the man continue with DREs and PSA tests at regular intervals.
If the levels continue to go up, or if a lump is detected, doctors will order additional tests. If cancer is suspected, a doctor will recommend that the patient have a prostate biopsy to determine the nature of the problem.

Research
The largest of research studies done on prostate and cancer screening was conducted by the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Unit. Evidence showed that most men who were treated for prostate cancer would not have been detected without the screening.

If you’ve had or are thinking of having a prostate exam done, let us know how you weigh in. And keep in mind, prostate cancer does not discriminate, even against international spies.

Woman checking pills

A List Of Items To Toss From Your Medicine Cabinet ASAP

Humorist and author Erma Bombeck once famously wrote, “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be.” Operating on this logic, one could make a case for neglecting to clean out the medicine cabinet. After all, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find your antibiotics overrun with germs, right? Although there may be some attractive qualities to this theory, there may be some detriments to leaving your medicine cabinet unexamined for too long. The AMA recommends that you clean out your medicine cabinet once a year, and with spring cleaning upon us, this may be an ideal time. Here are some guidelines on doing just that.

What to Discard
Sara Bingel, PharmD, clinical pharmacist at Mount Sinai Hospital says, “In general, I would say many oral medications are safe to take a year or two beyond their marked expiration date.”

Items to save after expiration include pain relievers, allergy medications, like Benadryl, aspirins, stomach medications, like Tums, headache pills, and cold and flu pills.

Items to toss include itroglycerine for chest pain, life saving medications, antibiotics, liquid/suspension medications, and children’s meds.

Life-saving Drugs
When it comes to lifesaving drugs, it is crucial to heed expiration dates. The FDA requires medication manufacturers to find out how long it takes for drugs to reach a potency of 95%; after that, it is expired. That means that, when it comes to life saving meds, it’s all about getting the right amount into your body. Says Michael J. Negrete, PharmD., “I might be willing to roll the dice with cough syrup. It’s no big deal if the potency is down and it doesn’t help my cough. But imagine, with an Epi-pen, which keeps people from going into anaphylactic shock, not working.”

Woman at medicine cabinet

Store Meds Well
Expiration dates operate on the assumption that the unopened package is being kept in a cool, dry, dark place. While an untampered with package of Benedryl stored in a dark drawer in dry conditions is likely to be effective for years after its expiration date, one stored in a humid bathroom may be a very different story.

Take Visual Cues
When it comes to determining what to throw out of your medicine cabinet, there are some things you can judge for yourself. You don’t want to take a pill that crumbles in your hand and ineffective aspirin tends to smell like vinegar. Negrete advises that you, “Be suspicious of anything that looks out of the ordinary.”

Hold On To Solids, Lose the Liquids
Liquids, gels, and suspensions (in which the active ingredients is suspended in a liquid) tend to lose their potency more easily than pills and are also at risk of bacteria contamination, Bingel says, “Think rancid milk.”

Toss Children’s Meds
Paul Langevin, MD., director of cardiac anesthesiology at Waterbury Hospital comments, “Because children are smaller and their metabolic systems aren’t fully developed, I wouldn’t hang on to kids’ meds past the expiration date. Plus, a lot of medications for children are prepared in suspensions so the kids will take them and those flavored liquids can decompose and acquire bacterial growth.”

Are you cleaning out your medicine cabinet once a year? When the last time you went through your meds was.