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As older guys we are all familiar with the whole issue about prostate cancer. Our doctors like to check us annually just like our wives get annual pap smears or mammogram to rule out cervical or breast cancer. I’m sure women would say we are getting off easy when all we have to do is get a “digital exam” and a blood test to check our PSA. Life insurance underwriters like to know that we get this done on a regular basis.

One of the indicators of the onset of prostate cancer is a PSA that is elevating. A normal PSA would be between 1 and 4. It will gradually rise with age. What doctors watch for is a more than gradual elevation. When we get to that age where we start getting an enlarged prostate, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), it is not uncommon for your PSA to raise more than gradually.

It is at this point that many doctors suggest a prostate biopsy to rule out cancer. While not a new idea, another test for “free” PSA, may lead to the conclusion that the elevation in PSA is not cause for a cancer concern, but rather would lead to the conclusion that a person should be treated for BPH and then monitored for any future changes.

Proponents of the free PSA test say this will do away with many unnecessary biopsies, a procedure that has the same inherent risk of infection that any invasive procedure has. Opponents say that any risk of prostate cancer is worthy of a biopsy. Better safe than sorry.

Bottom line. If your doctor suggests biopsy and has not done a free PSA test, ask if you can have one done. Always feel free to get a second opinion. Having said that, don’t get mired down in the debate. The truth is that prostate cancer caught early gives you a better chance of beating it and a better chance of getting life insurance rates that are fair, post cancer.