ellen, i'm sorry to hear about your brother and all he [and you] went through. your take home message of "pay attention to the side effect risks and weigh them in your decision-making" is true, but i think there's a much bigger take home message: don't go a dozen years without a routine physical. it's likely your brother would have had a psa test years ago, since the [controversial] recommendation not to bother with that test is recent. even if he didn't get that blood test, it's possible a routine rectal exam would have found evidence of his prostate cancer a lot earlier. in general, i think it's worth getting occasional routine physicals [frequency depends on age] if only to have baselines against which to judge future tests in the event you become ill.