Welcome to Prostate Biopsy Blog

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with an elevated or abmormal PSA level, there’s a lot of information here for you.  I’m not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training.  I do know how to use Google, so there are plenty of links where you can educate yourself.  That way, you know what to ask your doctor and when to seek another opinion.

For the whole story of my adventure in prostate fun, start at the very bottom and read upward.  I wish you the best of health and good luck in your diagnosis and treatment.

Prostate Biopsy Alternatives: Are They Necessary? Are They Worth It?

This will be my last blog for a while.  I’ll make sporadic updates, mostly if I have a checkup or want to post about a news story or something related to prostate health.  There’s one question I can now answer, but only for myself.  Was it necessary?  Was it all worth it?  Outside the standard tests that would normally be done for someone in my situation, did I waste time, money and effort trying to avoid a prostate biopsy that I ultimately had anyway?

In terms of time, I spent the morning of  Christmas Eve getting a prostate massage that was necessary for a PCA3 urine test.  I spent a night and two days in New York City for a power doppler ultrasound.  I spent 5 nights and the better part of 6 days on a trip to Washington D.C. for an MRI and a targeted fusion biopsy at the National Institutes of Health.  Granted, I got to visit with some friends on those trips, so it wasn’t a waste of time outside of the medical procedures.

In terms of cost, my PCA3 test was covered by insurance.  My portion was $9.60.  The visit to the NIH was free and they even paid a good part of my travel related expenses.  The big cost was the $950 for my power doppler ultrasound with Dr. Robert L. Bard in New York City.  I had to pay all of it up front, being told that at least part would be covered by most insurance plans as an out of network expense.  Ultimately, my insurance plan (Anthem Blue Cross) did consider the full amount as a covered expense.  Unfortunately, we have a high deductible plan and since it was the beginning of the year, I was not directly reimbursed by insurance for any of the amount.  On the plus side, it will count toward my deductible and out-of-pocket maximum limits for later in the year and will also be paid in pre-tax dollars once we are repaid from our HSA.

In terms of effort and risk, only the trip to the NIH was a big hassle.  I wish it could have been done in just a few nights, rather than 5.  Being sedated is always a risk, as are the risks of an invasive procedure like a biopsy and even just a hospital stay in general.

The trade off for the time, cost and hassle?  I now have peace of mind in that it is quite unlikely I have an undiagnosed prostate cancer.  I had hoped to avoid a biopsy, but ultimately my relatively high PSA and a couple areas identified as “very low risk” on my 3T MRI led me to decide that I should go ahead with the biopsy I had hoped to avoid.  At least the biopsy was targeted, presumably reducing the chances of a false negative.

So, was it worth it?  Would I do it all again?  Knowing what I do now, I probably would not have done the power doppler ultrasound.  At the very least, I would have tried to find a different physician to do it; preferably one who had published, peer-reviewed results, wasn’t so “commercial” in terms of hawking books and supplements and one who clearly agreed to provide a full copy of all images to me for future reference.   The PCA3 test is non-invasive and relatively low cost and effort.  The fusion MRI and biopsy was a bit of a hassle, but offset by zero cost and a nice weekend in Washington D.C.  If I have indications of risk in the future, I would strongly consider these two diagnostics again, depending on what other options are available at the time.

Obviously, my situation is unique.  Everyone else has different circumstances and different preferences on treatment.  In that I’m not a doctor and have no medical training, my opinions are not valid for anyone else.  What I do know is that everyone should question their doctor if they think they aren’t getting enough information to make an informed choice, especially if that decision involves cancer or another serious condition.  The internet is a powerful tool for research and if you find your physician was too busy to answer your questions or perhaps even underinformed about options, you should definitely seek out another physician or specialist for a second or third opinion.

If you find yourself in a similar situation as mine, I wish you the best of luck in your research, diagnosis and treatment.  Peace, and good health!



If you happen to be interested in sponsoring my blog in exchange for a banner advertisement, please send an email to webmaster “at” prostatebiopsyblog “dot” com .  I’d love to recoup the costs for that ultrasound and donate some more money to related charities, like the PCF.   Prostatebiopsyblog.com now gets reasonable google search placement on relevant terms.

Can You Prevent Prostate Cancer?

Maybe you’re like me.  You have some indications like a high PSA level, but your biopsy is negative and you have no physical symptoms.  Maybe you’re in a high risk group or just a health nut.  Is there anything you can do to prevent prostate cancer from starting?  I have searched a lot for alternatives to a biopsy.  In the process, I’ve seen a number of alternative therapies, some touted as a prevention, some as a cure and some maybe as both.

You’ll find them on a search, too.  There are books that tout special diets.  There are websites that claim their secret bio cleansing method will help.  Of course, there are herbal cures and patented mystery pills that promote prostate health.  I’m sure someone has treated prostate issues with magnets, acupuncture, chiro and almost any other therapy you can name.  For patients without prostate cancer proven by a biopsy, these remedies will work like a charm, of course, and they will proclaim they have been cured.  That’s because most of these men had only fear, not prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and is not often very aggressive, so the purveyors of snake oil don’t take a lot of risk hawking their products without any scientific study measuring their outcomes.  Of course, those who ignore the signs and avoid proven diagnostics and treatment will only have themselves to blame if they wait too long and have their options limited as a result.

Patents, testimonials and obscure foreign studies are one thing.  Having statistically significant findings published in a peer reviewed journal are another.  That patent may prevent someone else from selling the same thing, but it doesn’t mean your product works.  That obscure study was not only flawed, it was probably financed by the those who made the product.  Do you really want to risk your life, based on the testamonial of someone who wrote something on the internet? Continue reading Can You Prevent Prostate Cancer?