It's quite remarkable. After all, the local weatherman can't predict how much snow we'll get tomorrow. Strike that. Though a mere handful of hours away, the weatherman can't predict if we'll get snow tomorrow or have an unseasonably bright and sunny spring like day. (It's not a profession to be envied.)
So, can scientists really predict prostate cancer 25 years into the future?
Yes. According to new research a single test before age 50 accurately predicts which men are most at risk in the future. OK, so that's not an exact, person-by-person prediction. True. But, it does open the door for determining which men should be most aggressively screened as they age. That's a huge advantage over the current willy-nilly methodology.
A team of researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Sweden's Lund University found that a single prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is highly predictive. The test measures the amount of a specific protein that is produced by the prostate. The team found that a high PSA level before the age of 50 has a high correlation with the development of aggressive prostate cancer later in life.
"We have found that a single PSA test taken at or before age 50 is a very strong predictor of advanced prostate cancer diagnosed up to 25 years later. This suggests the possibility of using an early PSA test to determine which men should be the focus of the most intensive screening efforts," said Hans Lilja, MD, PhD, the study's lead.
So, men - Go ahead and schedule that doctor's appointment to have a PSA screening. You'll still have no idea about tomorrow's weather, but you'll have a much better feel for your health over the next 25 years or so.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the PSA screening, see this from the National Cancer Institute.