Experts Revise Recommendations on Prostate Cancer Screenings, PSA Test

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is revising its recommendations on prostate cancer screenings, including its position on the controversial PSA test.

In 2012, the USPSTF recommended against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer. The PSA blood test measures a protein produced by the prostate gland that is found in both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, according to the Mayo Clinic. High levels of this protein could indicate the presence of prostate cancer, the Mayo Clinic says, or other conditions like an inflamed or enlarged prostate.

Despite the lack of an endorsement by the USPSTF, Ben Stiller chose to have the PSA test and credited it with saving his life in an October 2016 post on Medium.

After reviewing evidence on PSA-based screening, the task force has now determined the potential benefits and harms of PSA screening are “closely balanced” in men ages 55 to 69. The task force recommends that men discuss with their doctors whether taking the test makes sense.

“Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers to affect men, and the decision about whether to begin screening using PSA-based testing is complex. For men who are more willing to accept the potential harms, screening may be the right choice for them,” said USPSTF member Dr. Alex H. Krist in a press release.

“Men who are more interested in avoiding the potential harms may choose not to be screened. In the end, men who are considering screening deserve to be aware of what the science says, so they can make the best choice for themselves, together with their doctor.”

As for men older than 70, the task force doesn’t recommend a PSA test be performed because potential harms outweigh the potential benefits.

The recommendations apply to adult men who have not been previously diagnosed with prostate cancer and do not have symptoms of the disease. 

The USPSTF is accepting public comment on its recommendations through May 8.

Follow Kristen Thometz on Twitter: @kristenthometz


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