In this medical video learn more about predicting prostate cancer.
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Ray Halligan: It wasn't something I would want every year. Jennifer Matthews: Each year, over one million men, like Ray, have pieces snipped from their prostate gland. Ray Halligan: It was like getting punched in the leg really quick with a finger. Jennifer Matthews: Biopsies carry a small risk of infection and bleeding and cost more than $700 a piece. Dr. Mark Garzotto: The vast majority of men who undergo a biopsy do so unecessarily. Jennifer Matthews: In fact, only one quarter of the men who have a biopsy have cancer. If a man has an elevated blood protein called PSA, doctors generally recommend a biopsy. Doctor Mark Garzotto says this mathematical formula is a better predictor. Dr. Mark Garzotto: We can find a patient that has a very high risk of having prostate cancer and separate him away from a patient that has a very low risk of having prostate cancer. Jennifer Matthews: The nomogram is a formula that looks at four factors: the patient's age, digital rectal exam, ultrasound finding, and PSA density -- or the PSA blood level in relation to the size of the prostate. This man's prostate is five-times normal size, but according to doctor Garzotto's calculations, his cancer risk is less than 5 percent. Doctor Garzotto says the nomogram predicts prostate cancer accurately 92 percent of the time. In the future, it could eliminate 200,000 unnecessary biopsies each year. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.