At the most basic level, the knowledge that one harbors an ignored malignancy would place many people in an emotional state ….. They would know that something strange, foreign and dangerous had taken up residence inside themselves, and this knowledge would almost certainly alter how they perceived themselves in multiple ways, subtle and not so subtle.
But the real cost would come from the fact that not following up on a positive PSA test would almost certainly promote the development of mood and anxiety disorders.
Why? Because we know from many studies that feeling powerless in response to a threat or danger in the environment greatly increases the risk that a person will develop depression and related conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. Knowing you harbor a tumor and aren’t able to do anything with this knowledge would be a perfect example of this phenomenon.
The cost of this knowledge would be especially high for those already predisposed to mood and anxiety disorders as a result of a tendency to worry, to ruminate, to focus too greatly on their health.