Cancer/PSA Levels Etc.

Updated on August 02, 2014
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
3 answers

Hi everyone,
My FIL was diagnosed several years ago with prostate cancer. He had chemo and was healthy for a little while, then was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had the whipple and has been a survivor for over 5 years now.
Recently, we found out his PSA went from 80 to 171 rather quickly (I'm not sure of the exact amount of time). He seems to be feeling sick quite often. They are going to do a bone density test in the near future.
He will not get treatment this time around. He has decided he does not want to go through that again.
I don't know anything about all this and tried doing some research online. I did find that the rate at which the PSA rises is significant, but that is about it. I know 171 is high, but is there any way to determine what this means for his future? My family has been through a few deaths recently and are still reeling...I am hoping we will have some time to heal before we have to really face this.
Anyone who knows anything about all this...I would love to have more information on what we can expect going forward and any thoughts on how we can help him in any way etc.
Many thanks!

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answers from Washington DC on

Unfortunately you will have to ask him what his doctor says. My FIL also has prostate cancer, as now does his eldest son. Everything is so variable. The levels may come down again. I really can't predict what will happen for him. Sorry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

A PSA level is just one small part of the diagnosis. I don't think the number itself has much meaning other than to say the person has cancer. I'm 10 years cancer free after having a lobe of one lung removed. My cousin died last year just few months after he was diagnosed with metastased melanoma. His cancer had spread to several locations thus making him ineligible for both surgery and chemotherapy. Melanoma is fast spreading. My cancer was carcinoid which is very slow growing.

I went with my cousin to his appointments so I would know about his cancer and what to expect. A part of the diagnosis was an estimated life expectancy based on the form of cancer, how far it has spread and the chosen treatment. I suggest you go with your father to talk with the doctor. I also suggest that your family accept a referral to a social worker and all of you let her help you. With my cousin I put off talking with the social worker because it wasn't important to my cousin to go. I very much wish I'd gone.

The social worker knows about cancer and how it affects the whole family. She will help you cope not only with your feelings but also with the medical system. She has more time to answer questions. If you don't want to talk about your feelings she will still be a strong support person.

Make an appointment for you, your husband and his parent to talk with the doctor or ask him to sign a release so that the doctor can talk with you and/or your husband. I suggest you record the conversation because you won't remember all of it and so you can share it with others.

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answers from Washington DC on

Are you on the list of people the doctor can talk to about his condition and prognosis?

A high PSA is just one part of the problem. Bone scans are "routine" when the numbers are above 20. Your Father in Laws is WAY over that. They will most likely do another test (biopsy) and get a "Gleason Score" - which gives the "stage or level" of the cancer. Have they done the biopsy yet?

What is his age? I realize this is REALLY hard to go through. My mom died just 6 days after diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer last year. You are VERY VERY lucky to have him for 5 years!!

My dad was just diagnosed with scquamous cell carcinoma. it's a VERY aggressive form of skin cancer (his 27 years in the US Navy and all that sun has taken its toll on him). This is NOT his first bout with skin cancer - but it IS his first time with one so aggressive (it grew from a pin point to 7mm wide by 4mm tall in 3 short weeks). He has chosen surgery only - no radiation or chemo. As hard as it is for us - this is HIS choice. NOT ours. If he has chosen NOT to fight - as much as you want him to fight - it's NOT your call.

You can respect his decision. You can make him as comfortable as possible. I'm TRULY sorry for the losses your family has endured recently. It sucks. It really does.

Please make sure you are on the list for doctors and nurses to discuss his care, options and status. It WILL help you deal and accept what is going on.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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