Doctors order a blood test called PSA to screen men for prostate cancer. Recent research shows that it is a more accurate screener for infection.

PSA is a chemical found in the prostate. Blood levels rise when a man is infected or has a cancer. When this happens, doctors often stick a needle into the prostate several times, extract tissue and analyze the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer.

A study from Belgium shows that almost all biopsies that do not show cancer show infection. If future studies confirm this study, men who have negative biopsies for prostate cancer should then be placed on antibiotics for the many months that it takes to cure prostate infections. Actually, doctors should place a man on an antibiotic every time that they biopsy the prostate because sticking a needle through the rectum into the prostate virtually always causes an infection, even when one wasn't there before the biopsy.

PHF Schatteman, L Hoekx, JJ Wyndaele, W Jeuris, E VanMarck. Inflammation in prostate biopsies of men without prostatic malignancy or clinical prostatitis - Correlation with total serum PSA and PSA density. European Urology, 2000, Vol 37, Iss 4, pp 404-412. Address Wyndaele JJ, Univ Antwerp Hosp, Dept Urol, Wilrijkstr 10, B-2650 Edegem, BELGIUM

Reported 5/1/00; checked 8/9/05

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