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Sinclair Cares: New recommendations about PSA test

Dr. Stephen Eulau speaks with cancer patient Michael Pastula (KOMO-TV)

A year ago, Michael Pastula felt perfectly healthy. His only indication that something might be wrong was a blood test that showed elevated levels of a protein, indicating possible prostate cancer.

"You'll never know unless you're looking for it. And you need to look for it. You need to look for it," Pastula said.

The prostate-specific antigen -- or PSA -- test is a simple blood draw with quick results. Eight years ago, a government task force recommended against it, saying it led to unnecessary treatment.

In new draft recommendations, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say men 55 to 69 years old should talk to their doctors to decide if PSA screening is right for them.

They still warn that screening could lead to potential misdiagnosis and treatment that could cause impotence and urinary incontinence.

But the panel also says new evidence supports the benefits of screening, including reducing the chance of dying from prostate cancer and catching it before cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

Dr. Stephen Eulau, a radiation oncology specialist in Seattle, said he is happy to see the more open-minded approach.

"It's really, really important that the patient and the doctor have a conversation in a collaborative way so they can form a partnership in making this decision. It's very important to recognize that we're not just looking at a blood test. We're looking at a patient," Eulau said.

Pastula's cancer was aggressive, spreading to his lymph nodes and bladder.

"If you don't have something like a PSA test to give you at least an indication that something's going on, then people are going to die from this," Pastula said.

Pastula had surgery and was undergoing radiation.

"I think you have an excellent opportunity to cure this cancer," Eulau said.

"I'd be happy about that," Pastula responded.

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