Thursday, May 31, 2012
How to read your PSA test results

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Recently a report was released about healthy men over 50 not needing PSA testing. As is frequently the case, the headlines told little of the story. In fact they probably caused more confusion than anything else. The underlying issue is related to a number of factors. For example, a healthy man who just gets a PSA done in a community testing has lab results that do not mean much by itself. PSA testing is all about telling you what the likelihood of having prostate cancer is. It does not make a diagnosis of prostate cancer. It just tells you what your chances are. For example, a PSA level of below 2.5 means that there is a low risk of prostate cancer. It does not guarantee that cancer is not present. It just means that it is unlikely. There would be no need for further testing. If there is a PSA level of above 10 it means that there is a 67% risk of prostate cancer. That risk is so high that further testing needs to be done. Thus for someone with a very low number or a relatively high number the options are clear. The problems occur when the result is between 2.5 and 10. For levels between 2.5 and 4, the risk of prostate cancer is about 15%. That means that 85% of men with this level do not have cancer. For levels between 4 and 10, the risk of prostate cancer is about 25%. That means that 75% of men with this level do not have cancer. The procedures used to diagnose cancer in these two groups involve a series of biopsies of the prostate. These biopsies carry a variety of risks and complications. It leads to the question as to whether the risk of complication is worth it for someone who has a 75% to 85% chance of not having prostate cancer at all. This is not a question that can be answered by a national panel of experts. It is an individual decision. It is based on a number of factors. The first of those has to do with the individual patient's feeling about the statistics. Some men may feel that the odds are in their favor so they do not want any procedures done. Others may feel that a 15% to 25% risk of prostate cancer is high enough to have the procedure done and risk the side effects. PSA tests should not be done in a vacuum. They should be associated with an annual rectal exam by the physician. A normal exam will make the chances of prostate cancer lower than the 15% to 25%. An abnormal exam will make the chances higher. PSA results change over time. Sometimes a result between 4 and 10 can be followed. It can be evaluated for how much and how fast it changes over time. If the level goes up by a large amount, it would increase the likelihood of prostate cancer. If it goes up quickly, it would also increase the likelihood of prostate cancer. A level that does not increase a lot over time or does not increase quickly lowers the chances of prostate cancer. The bottom line is what to do with a PSA result needs to be an individualized decision. It needs to be based upon the likelihood of prostate cancer. This is due to a number of factors. It needs to be based upon the patient's feelings about medical procedures and how sure he wants to be about that likelihood. The recommendation of the panel makes sense in general terms. However, as is often the case, there is more to the story.

Alzheimer's Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Alzheimer's Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, at LifeCare at Lofland Park's first floor resident lounge, 715 E. King St., Seaford. This group provides support and information about Alzheimer's and dementia to families, caregivers and anyone who is affected by this disease. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact LifeCare at Lofland Park at 628-3000, ext. 8302.

Cancer Survivors Day June 3 Join our community on National Cancer Survivors Day, Sunday, June 3, 2012. This 25th annual worldwide celebration of life will be held in hundreds of communities worldwide. Cancer survivors, caregivers, family members, friends, and healthcare professionals will unite to show that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive. Nanticoke Cancer Care Center is hosting a Celebration Of Life on Sunday, June 3, at the Seaford Moose Lodge from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend. Local survivors, Carol Kinsley, will speak about her personal journey, and Jerry Jones will provide the musical entertainment. "Come learn how surviving cancer is an attitude about life and living each day to the fullest," says Terri Clifton, National Cancer Survivors Day coordinator for Nanticoke Cancer Care Center. For more information about Nanticoke's National Cancer Survivors Day events, contact Clifton at 629-6611, ext. 2577.

Rabies confirmed in raccoon A raccoon in Newark recently tested positive for rabies. No human was bitten but exposure to blood and saliva was suspected and so an individual was referred for postexposure prophylaxis treatment, a series of four vaccinations. The Division of Public Health reminds people that as weather warms and we start spending more time outdoors, we increase our risk of exposure to rabid animals. DPH advises that wild mammals in Delaware should be regarded as if they may have rabies, no matter their location. Pet vaccinations and awareness are the best defense. Since January 2012, the Delaware Public Health (DPH) Laboratory has tested 48 animals, of which five (approximately 10 percent) were found positive for rabies. There were six confirmed cases of rabies in animals in 2011. Rabies is a deadly disease that kills both animals and humans. When untreated, the rabies virus is almost always fatal. For more information, visit or

MALTA sponsors college blood drive The students in the Medical Assistant/Laboratory Technology Association, MALTA, the oldest student club at Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus recently hosted the Blood Bank of Delmarva and its bloodmobile on campus. At day's end, 91 out of more than 108 people were able to be donors. A total of 45.5 liters of blood, or approximately 12 gallons, was donated. MALTA has been spear-heading this project for many years as a way for the students to perform community service and spread awareness about the importance of giving blood to students, staff and the public. Students organize the event and ensure that after the procedure, donors rest for a few minutes and have a snack. Being able to observe first-hand all aspects of the project throughout the day enables the med lab students to gain a more complete understanding of the blood banking process.

NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Free cancer screening, treatment In the ongoing fight to reduce cancer incidence and mortality in Delaware, the Department of Health and Social Services, Representative John Carney, Dr. Stephen Grubbs of Medical Oncology Hematology Consultants, William Bowser, chair of the Delaware Cancer Consortium, and others gathered recently at the Claymont Community Center to celebrate the work of Screening for Life and the Community Healthcare Access Program (CHAP). These Delaware Division of Public Health programs offer free cancer screenings to the uninsured and underinsured, and treatment to the uninsured. Growing out of the work of the Delaware Cancer Consortium and state government efforts to fight cancer, along with the support of federal funding, Screening for Life and CHAP were created to address the needs of the many who fall between the cracks, not eligible for Medicaid but still unable to afford full insurance coverage. To qualify, a person's income must be between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or a maximum annual income of $57,625 for a family of four. Delawareans must also meet residency requirements and be uninsured or underinsured. The type of screenings covered varies by age depending upon risk category. As a partnership program to Screening for Life, the CHAP provides access to primary care doctors, medical specialists, and other health resources, including prescription programs, laboratory and radiology services. CHAP is open to individuals who meet the income guidelines (100 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to $46,000 for a family of four), are uninsured, and are Delaware residents. For more information on SFL or CHAP or additional services for cancer support, call the Delaware Helpline at 211 or 302-744-1040. For recommendations on cancer screening guidelines or to learn more, visit

Summer Blood Challenge begins Where else can you save lives and possibly drive away in a new car? This year's theme is "Roll Up Your Sleeve & Roll Away a Winner!" Grand Prize is a 2 year lease on a Fiat 500 courtesy of Carman Fiat on DuPont Highway, New Castle. Other major prizes include a $2,000 and $1,000 TD Bank Visa Gift Card along with weekly prizes of $50 gas cards courtesy of TD Bank. More than 200 businesses and organizations are expected to participate in this competition among local employers to recruit the most Blood Bank members and donors during the summer when fewer people tend to give blood. This year's competition runs from May 21 to Sept. 15. "The Blood Bank needs 350 donors every day to maintain the local blood supply and the SBC helps us to maintain that level of giving," said Roy Roper, Blood Bank president and CEO. SBC participants earn points by giving blood or becoming a Blood Bank member. Those under the age of 35 will receive two bonus points to encourage involvement among this important age group. Less than 7% of all Blood Bank members are under the age of 35. For more information on this year's Summer Blood Challenge, visit

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Diabetes education offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a four-session diabetes education program on June 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 5 to 7 p.m., at the hospital. Pre-registration is required and the program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. The goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Parkinson's Support Group A Parkinson's Support Group is being held in Seaford on the third Monday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The group focuses on educating members about Parkinson's through guest speakers and small group discussions. Persons with other movements disorders are welcome to join the group as much of what is discussed is not limited to Parkinson's. The value of exercise is continually stressed and an exercise class for the group will be started in the near future. New members are encouraged to attend. Reservations or advance notification is not required. For more information, call Dennis Leebel at 302-644-3465.