Cancer screening can save lives. That is indisputable. But which method is suitable? Who should be examined how often? And who bears the cost of the investigation? These and other questions are discussed again and again. Example: The early detection of prostate cancer. With around 80, 000 new cases, prostate cancer is currently the most common type of cancer in men. The disease claims around 12, 000 lives a year. However, if the tumor is detected early, the chances of recovery are very good: as long as the cancer is confined to the prostate, the chance of getting well again is 85 to 100 percent. However, it is precisely these small, often lower-lying tumors that are often overlooked in the usual early detection method in Germany.
Up to now only scans of the prostate are legally guaranteed cancer precaution, the costs are borne by the health insurance company. Different in the USA. There, the early detection was supplemented by a blood test. With success: According to initial estimates, the number of deaths from prostate cancer alone in the past year has fallen by about 25 percent.
The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is a protein that is increasingly released into the blood in various prostate diseases. PSA is not equal to PSA. Usually measured is the so-called total PSA (tPSA). It is composed of the bound or complexed PSA (cPSA) and a free part (fPSA). Free PSA is primarily released in benign prostate diseases. In contrast, cPSA is elevated, especially in prostate cancer.
Blood test for early detection
Recently, there is a blood test that covers only the cPSA. It reliably detects even the smallest concentrations. Elevated scores indicate a carcinoma with greater certainty than tPSA, even if the palpation revealed no evidence. In this case, the urologist usually recommends a tissue examination for final clarification. The number of false-positive results is significantly lower with cPSA than with tPSA. Thus, a method for the early detection of prostate carcinomas is available, which is more sensitive and more accurate than previously common procedures. This has been confirmed in several clinical studies.
The German Society for Urology DGU recommends the annual cancer screening for men over the age of 50 years. If there was a family burden, early detection should begin at the age of 45. Anyone in Germany who wishes to measure the cPSA value will receive details from the urologist. The cost is around 20 euros. However, if there is a positive palpation, the health insurances pay the costs of the blood test for PSA.