Consider that your doctor physically examines your prostate gland for any signs of possible cancer, such as an enlargement or a hardening of the prostate and whether there are any growths present on the gland. Imagine the physician orders blood tests, including a PSA test which is used for the early diagnosis of prostate cancer. So far, so good. This is how to check whether a man without any symptoms of prostate cancer might actually have it. Imagine the tests came back outside the normal range
Yet, there continues to be debate amid some physicians over the way to screen asymptomatic men for prostate cancer or even if screening is even important. These doctors argue that screening has little, if any, value. One factor, nevertheless, continues to be constant. If the result of a screening test is abnormal the individual ought to be informed about the results and either be referred to a specialist or be told about the option for diagnostic testing, for example a biopsy. Again, though, some physicians also take the position that, at least under certain instances, a male patient who is diagnosed with prostate cancer does not need to undergo treatment right away and only should carefully monitor the cancer.
Should this happen, the cancer becomes incurable before the patient turns symptomatic and is finally diagnosed. However, if a doctor noted that the patient’s prostate was enlarged or there was a nodule on the gland and the PSA test results indicated abnormally high levels of the antigen and the physician did not inform the patient about the abnormal results, the patient would probably think that meant the results were all normal.
In case the man does in fact have cancer, not telling him that he may have cancer will lead to a delay in his diagnosis. A delay may, in turn, give the cancer time to reach an advanced stage. Once a cancer metastasizes treatment can at best delay the continuing growth of the cancer and lower the effects (such as pain) of the cancer. There are lawsuits where a physician did screen a male and the test results were abnormal yet the physician did not tell the patient and failed to recommend further testing or to refer the man to a specialist.
Screening tests can yield false positives. This means that certain patients with abnormal screening results will not have cancer. Yet performing screening tests for cancer is meaningless without follow up as it gives the patient a false sense of security thinking that he has no cancer as the doctor screened him but said nothing to him that the screening tests showed the possibility of cancer. Physicians typically recognize that there is a requirement for follow up when the results of screening tests come back as abnormal.