Ashley Beck: Dr. Kris Gast with Fort Smith Radiation Oncology is back with us this morning. This time around we are talking about the benefits of PSA testing for cancer. Thanks for being here, we are learning so much from your segments and this time around we want to talk about detecting prostate cancer, a PSA.
Dr. Kris Gast: That is the standard blood test for detecting prostate cancer, usually your primary care physician will draw that during your annual blood test. There has been in the last week a new study that came out, that was put out by a task force that has caused some stir even in my practice already, that said that the PSA screening was actually more harmful than beneficial. That’s causing a lot of controversy this last week in terms of trying to figure out where does that actually fall, in terms of what are we doing with this.
Ashley Beck: How big was the study or who was the panel behind it.
Dr. Kris Gast: Well, the task force is part of a non-profit volunteer panel of sixteen health care professionals that are basically trying to just make Americans healthier. They’re from the fields of preventive medicine, primary care, OB/GYN and nursing. There are no Oncologists on the panel. Basically what they did is look at epidemiological data and they gave the PSA testing a grade D meaning that it appeared that it was more harmful to just standardly screen healthy men between the ages of 50 and 70 and detect cancer, than go ahead and use it and find your cancer at an earlier stage. So that’s been very confusing to a lot of my patients. They made no recommendations in terms of once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, in terms of treatment. There’s no recommendations on that. They’re recommendation was that we don’t use the PSA for screening anymore.
Ashley Beck: Well this is obviously one study, so where do we go, I know you said this is so early, in protocol, where do we go from here?
Dr. Kris Gast: Well, I think, they’re main thrust right now is that we use this information to basically open dialog between the man and the doctor. To sit and really talk about what does this PSA mean, what is it going to lead to if it comes back elevated, and what are the procedures that are going to have to be done. And then if there is cancer, what are the options. But, the task force was looking at the population as a whole. You know, a group of patients, the population, not each individual patient. On an individual level, each person still has to make their own decision. This won’t make any changes in terms of reimbursement from Medicare or insurance carriers. It’s not like it becomes a new wall where you can’t have a PSA but it should open up some dialog between the patient and their physician.
Ashley Beck: So really, to take away from this, you really just need to be talking with your doctor, you need to have that open conversation so that you can determine what’s best for you. Because what’s best for me may not be best for the next person.
Dr. Kris Gast: Exactly, and that’s really the way that most of radiation oncologists and neurologists approach prostate cancer. Each individual patient is looked at specifically. Even when we get to a process of a man who has a diagnosis of prostate cancer, we don’t just shotgun and treat everyone. I follow a number of men who are on what we call watchful waiting which means they’ve had no treatment whatsoever but we check their PSA’s periodically and just keep an eye on them. There’s a lot of different options in terms of male screening vs not screening and also treatment. Each one has to be individually made for each patient.
Ashley Beck: Let me ask you this, have we seen the death rate fall because we’ve been doing PSA testing?
Dr. Kris Gast: Well that’s another thing that was somewhat concerning as well, since we’ve been using the PSA screening, the death rate from prostate cancer has fallen. Prostate cancer is our #2 cancer, #2 killer in men for prostate. It’s right behind lung cancer in that respect. One in thirty-six men, or one out of thirty-six men, will die of prostate cancer. It’s not necessarily a cancer that you can really fool around with too much. Now with that being said, it’s very difficult to determine which of your prostate cancer patients are going to eventually have problems from the prostate cancer. That’s where we get into that individual discussion and trying to decide what to do.
Ashley Beck: There are options, there is treatment and obviously this study that’s just out, we’ll be talking about this more. Before I let you go quickly I wanted to talk about National Cancer Survivors Day.
Dr. Kris Gast: This is a world-wide event, this is our 25th year. It’s basically just a celebration of life for our cancer survivors, our prostate patients as well. Reynolds Cancer Support House is our sponsor, they’re really going all out this year, they’re having it at the Phoenix Expo on Saturday June 2nd, from 1 to 4. It’s kind of a drop in type of thing, but there are a couple of different things that are happening. At 2 o’clock I’ll be talking, at 3 o’clock there’s the survivors recognition but there’s a lot of other activities. There’s kids things, I think they’re going to be fingerpainting kids and all, there’s games. My team at work has put together gifts for each survivor that shows up.
Ashley Beck: Well, come out so we can all celebrate together, a big day. Don’t forget if you have any questions just email Dr. Gast at email@example.com, they’re in Fort Smith, you can also mail in your questions as well. Dr. Kris Gast thank you for being here, we’ll be seeing you guys soon.
Dr. Kris Gast: Thank You
Dr. Kris Gast will be presenting her “History of Cancer” presentation featuring area children dressed in outfits from different periods of time at 2pm. Fort Smith Radiation Oncology will also be hosting a table at the event so the FSRO staff can visit with the public and hand out Fort Smith Radiation Onoclogy’s brand new 8 page color brochure.
Fort Smith Radiation Oncology is also sponsoring the survivor gift for the event. Every survivor that attends will receive a special gift courtesy of FSRO. Please make plans now to attend National Cancer Survivors Day~Come join us as we celebrate survivorship!
Kim Vann, Carolyn Scott, Karla Foley, and Jennifer Stuart of Fort Smith Radiation Oncology all represented their respective careers at a career fair for junior high girls held at Kimmons Junior High in Fort Smith. The Zonta Club of Fort Smith hosted the career fair in hopes of showing area girls that they can be anything. Kim Vann represented Medical Dosimetry, Karla Foley represented Radiation Therapy, Carolyn Scott represented Nursing, and Jennifer Stuart represented Massage Therapy. The girls attending were most shocked by FSRO’s anti-smoking picture. The girls asked lots of questions about cancer, it’s treatment, and the schooling required for fields in radiation therapy.