U.S. panel leaves prostate screening up to men, their doctors

U.S. panel leaves prostate screening up to men, their doctors

In place of bypassing PSA completely, men between the age of 55 and 69 must have a chat with their doctor about the benefits and risks prior to making their own choice on whether or not to get tested. Before deciding whether to be screened, men should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their clinician, their specific clinical circumstances, and incorporate their values in the decision.

The US Preventative Services Task Force understands that the recommendation is confusing for both medical providers and patients. For men age 70 and older, the potential benefits do not outweigh the harms, and these men should not be routinely screened for prostate cancer. An estimated 29,000 men died and 165,000 men are anticipated to be detected with prostate cancer in this year.

The Council, comprised of a consortium of leading physicians, health educators, scientists and prostate cancer advocates, aims to conduct nationwide screenings for men and perform research that will aid in the detection and treatment of prostate conditions. The screening also helps in avoiding 3 cases of spreading prostate cancer for every 1,000 men.

After the USPSTF released its findings, the American Urological Association issued an immediate response agreeing with the recommendation.

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It says men between 55 and 69 should talk with their doctors about the risk and benefits of a PSA test.

"If men are starting a conversation with their physicians, they may realize they are at greater risk for prostate cancer than they thought", said Vivek Sinha, MD, an MHN advisor specializing in Family Medicine.

A man's lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is about 13 percent, but the lifetime risk of dying of prostate cancer is only 2.5 percent, with half of those deaths occurring at age 80 or beyond, the Task Force authors note in their recommendation statement published on Tuesday in JAMA. Many men with prostate cancer never experience symptoms and, without screening, would never know they have the disease.

Dr. Krist is a professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University and active clinician and teacher at the Fairfax Family Practice residency.