New Lyme Disease Test Is More Reliable

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Dear Dr. Donohue: You said recently that the test for Lyme disease is not very reliable. Since then, I've read where they have developed a new Lyme test. Is that one more reliable?

Yes, the new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Lyme disease is truly reliable. However, it is expensive and difficult to perform, so is not widely available.

In time, I am sure it will be the universally accepted answer to the knotty problem of reliable Lyme disease diagnosis.

PCR is a procedure for detecting small amounts of DNA, the cell's inner genetic structure. The test permits detection of the Lyme bacteria's DNA.

Lyme disease is an infection with a bacteria carried by deer ticks. Chief among its symptoms is joint inflammation, which up to now has been difficult to distinguish from other forms of arthritis.

Reliable testing for the disease permits earlier treatment of the infection with antibiotics.

***** Dear Dr. Donohue: Recently, I underwent biopsy of my enlarged prostate. Cancer cells were found in the gland. For now, they say they'll just watch and wait. For what? How? Any information you can give me would be appreciated.

Many cancer experts agree that watchful waiting is a reasonable approach for some men with prostate cancer.

The man's age and the cancer's size figure into the decision, as does the relative aggressiveness of the cancer's cells. …