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New study questions old thinking about deadly form of cancer


Many people in Houston have probably had some experience with cancer. Whether a person has had cancer, or knows a friend or family member who has had cancer, this frightening disease touches millions of people in one way or another. Advances in medicine are improving treatments for many forms of cancer, but it can still be a debilitating and deadly disease.

Recently, researchers published a study that could result in doctors reevaluating how they screen patients for prostate cancer. This type of cancer, which is the second most commonly diagnosed among men, has a very high survival rate in its early stages. In its later stages, however, prostate cancer is deadly. Thus, researchers and doctors aim to find a reliable way to screen patients for prostate cancer.

One diagnostic test known as the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test, has been unpopular in recent decades. The theory about the PSA test is that it is unreliable and causes doctors to routinely order more tests, as well as unnecessary treatments. However, the recent study, in which researchers analyzed more than 700,000 prostate cancer diagnoses between 2004 and 2013, suggests that the PSA test may be more prudent than doctors previously thought.

The main reason for the reconsideration of the PSA test is that the study found an alarming increase of the late stage form of prostate cancer. The research showed that this deadly form of the disease has increased by a staggering 72 percent during the past decade. Therefore, early detection and monitoring is critical, now more than ever.

Regardless of whether doctors revert back to the PSA test, or develop some other kind of test, a prostate cancer diagnosis is a very serious matter.

When cancer leaves a patient unable to work and earn an income, the person may be able to get help through Social Security Disability benefits for illness. Many types of cancer, like late stage prostate cancer, can render a person disabled, thus qualifying them for SSD benefits. The Social Security Administration even includes some forms of prostate cancer on its Compassionate Allowance list, which means that patients can qualify to get SSD benefits much faster than people with other illnesses or injuries.

People with cancer should focus on their recovery, they shouldn't have to stress out about being unable to work and pay their monthly bills. SSD benefits can help ease some of the financial burden.

Source: Newsweek, "Most Aggressive Form of Prostate Cancer on the Rise," Jessica Firger, July 19, 2016

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