Prostate Cancer Screening

The solution isn’t to stop screening. The better idea is to use more specific tests - Stacy Loeb

Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate Cancer Screening

image by: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month- National Padre

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The ABCs and Ds of Whether to Get Prostate Cancer Screening

It can be hard for physicians to follow current thinking of experts on medical care. It must be exponentially harder for the public to make sense of it. Recently, the United States Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendation on prostate cancer screening from a D (that is, don’t do it) to a C (discuss it with your doctor).

Although there seemed to be a lot of coverage of this announcement in the news media, and a fair amount of excitement, there are two things men should know. First, it’s a good thing that recommendations change over time; second, this change isn’t as big a deal as you might think.

The task force is made up of volunteers who are…

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 The ABCs and Ds of Whether to Get Prostate Cancer Screening

I’m sure the nuances of A, B, C and D recommendations can be confusing to the public. They can also make it seem as if experts are constantly changing their minds. But this is how we want our experts to react: When new evidence is found, it should be added to older evidence to change our thinking when appropriate.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

“Prostate cancer is a serious health problem that affects thousands of men and their families. But before getting a PSA test, all men deserve to know what the science tells us about PSA screening: there is a very small potential benefit and significant potential harms. We encourage clinicians to consider this evidence and not screen their patients with a PSA test unless the individual being screened understands what is known about PSA screening and makes the personal decision that even a small possibility of benefit outweighs the known risk of harms.”

Prostate Cancer can be diagnosed by using a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) or biopsy of the prostate.

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Surprisingly, there is a lot of debate about whether ordering the PSA test for routine annual prostate cancer screening is a good idea. This is partly because of the uniquely slow-moving nature of most cases of prostate cancer. It’s actually possible to live out a healthy life while you have prostate cancer that is not being treated (termed Active Surveillance)—particularly for an older man. But some prostate cancer cases present an immediate threat, and need to be treated.

National Cancer Institute

Some screening tests are used because they have been shown to be helpful both in finding cancers early and decreasing the chance of dying from these cancers. Other tests are used because they have been shown to find cancer in some people; however, it has not been proven in clinical trials that use of these tests will decrease the risk of dying from cancer.

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