As you may have heard, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. received a prostate cancer diagnosis back in February and is now cancer-free. For that swift and positive outcome, he credits a new, non-invasive urine test that led him to proactively seek a biopsy — something he wants other men to know is available to them, too.
“My story had a happy ending: We caught it early, and my life went back to how it was before. All men should be able to have that."
Ripken's journey began when he went for his annual physical and routine bloodwork revealed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) — a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland — had risen over time. While between a quarter to half of the time, depending on your PSA level, this may be due to prostate cancer, much of the time it indicates something as benign as an enlarged prostate (common in men as they age) or a long bike ride. A frequent cyclist, Ripken says he thought riding his bike a lot, as he'd been doing around that time, “or a small infection” could be the reason. Otherwise, he says, “I had no symptoms whatsoever,” experiencing none of the tell-tale signs such as trouble urinating or lower back pain.
For years, men with an elevated PSA had two options: adopt a wait-and-see approach, or, to find out with certainty whether they had cancer, get a biopsy, a painful procedure where a physician puts a needle through the wall of the rectum and into the prostate. It also carries risk of bleeding or infection.
Instead, Ripken's urologist, Ronald Tutrone Jr., chief of the Division of Urology at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, recommended the ExoDx Prostate Test, a newer, simple urine test that looks for genetic changes indicating prostate cancer. When that test came back elevated, Ripken went ahead with a biopsy that indeed revealed he had prostate cancer. He underwent successful surgery in March, and is now in remission.
Ripken feels fortunate his cancer was caught in the early stages, and that he was able to get the ExoDX Prostate Test. “Without it I might have decided to simply watch my PSA levels for a while, and the cancer might have spread."