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Get Diagnosis From Specialist

Ann Landers Creators Syndicate

Dear Ann Landers: Last year, you printed a column about the importance of the PSA test in diagnosing prostate cancer. Would you please run it again? It may come in handy for men of a certain age. Faithful Reader in Kansas City

Dear Faithful Reader: Thank you for asking. Here it is:

Dear Ann Landers: I’ve been a longtime reader of your column and now find I have something that may be of interest to you and your readers. It may save lives.

About five years ago, I was having urinary problems. I went to the family doctor, who gave me the routine digital rectal exam and said there was nothing wrong - it was merely my age.

After several months, the problem was getting worse, so I went to see the doctor again. He gave me another rectal exam and said nothing was wrong. I asked if I should see a urologist, but the doctor said it would be a waste of time and money.

I insisted that he recommend one anyway and made an appointment.

The urologist gave me a PSA test along with a digital exam. The PSA showed that there might be a problem, so the urologist gave me an ultrasound and biopsied the five suspicious areas. All were malignant, and the following week, I had a complete prostate removal. When I asked the urologist why the digital exam showed nothing, he said it was accurate only 50 percent of the time.

A college friend of mine contacted me after learning of my surgery, and I told him what had happened. He had gone to his doctor some years before with the same complaint and received the same answer - old age. After I told him about my experience, he went to a urologist and found that he, too, had malignancies. Unfortunately, he had waited too long, and the removal of his prostate and surrounding lymph glands did not stop the cancer. I just learned that he is terminal.

How many thousands of men die each year from prostate cancer because they trust an ordinary doctor’s reliance on the conventional digital exam, not realizing that it is only 50 percent accurate? Please, Ann, tell your readers if a man is having urinary problems, particularly if he is over 60, he should go immediately to a urologist and find out for certain. - No Name, No State

Dear N.N.: I have dealt with this problem in the column before and received an astonishing number of letters from men (and their wives) relating similar experiences. While a competent general practitioner should be able to diagnose the problem, I agree that one who specializes in urology is a safer bet.

Dear Ann Landers: Can you stand one more letter on the ignorance of people who know nothing about other countries? Such ignorance is not restricted to citizens of the United States.

I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early 1970s. A local woman complained to me about the ignorance of North Americans when it came to her country and about South America in general. She said U.S. citizens thought Buenos Aires was in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro was in Argentina.

She then said that in spite of all this, she looked forward to visiting the United States, particularly our beautiful capital city of Boston. I could not resist pointing out that our capital was Washington, D.C. “Oh,” she said in Spanish, with a perfectly straight face. “When did they move it?” - Been There, Heard That, in S.C.

Dear Been There: In fact, the capital of the United States was Philadelphia until 1800, when it was moved to Washington, D.C. It seems to me that the capitals of other countries have been moved as well. Educate me, please.

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