The Controversy Over Prostate Cancer Screenings
If you’ve ever been screened for prostate cancer, you most likely know what a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is.
But, did you know that since 2008, experts have discouraged the use of PSA tests for men older than age 75?
It seems counter-intuitive, since we’ve all been taught that early detection is key to surviving cancer.
However, in this population, tumors tend to be slow-growing and asymptomatic. This means that for a majority of men ages 75 and older, most early-stage tumors won't require treatment because the patient is likely to succumb to something else before the tumor becomes an issue.
Keep in mind that this advice may not apply to a healthy and active 75-year-old who's likely to live long enough for a tumor to spread.
And while PSA tests aren't harmful in and of themselves, studies have shown that if the test comes back positive for cancer, it can lead to psychological distress, unnecessary biopsies and overtreatment.
Treatments, including surgery and radiation, may be riskier than continuing to monitor a tumor, since they carry a risk of incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
Bottom line – talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.
Your primary care physician knows you best and can recommend the right screenings for your personal needs.
Published on: September 9, 2015