Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations

University of Rochester| Fri Apr 14 11:16:27 EDT 2017
Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations

Since 2012, the United States Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended againstprostate cancer screening, but the task force recently shifted their view and now encourages some men from ages 44 to 69 to talk about screening with their doctors. The USPSTF, however, still maintains that men 70 and older should not be screened for prostate cancer, according to a draft document released earlier this week.  

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers, with more than 180,000 being diagnosed in the U.S. each year. A screening blood test evaluates the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). While having an elevated PSA does not necessarily mean a man has prostate cancer, it can lead to further testing that could result in a biopsy or diagnosis.

New studies and a shift in how low-risk prostate cancer is treated are the primary reasons behind the task force’s change. Since 2012 when the original recommendations were published, active surveillance has become a standard treatment option for those with slower-growing prostate cancers. This means a patient is followed closely to ensure the cancer doesn’t spread, but they do not receive any treatment such as surgery or radiation therapy. This can help men avoid side effects that impact quality of life, such as reduced urinary or sexual function, for a disease that likely would have progressed very slowly and not caused death. 

Edward M. Messing, M.D., F.A.C.S., Winfield W. Scott Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at UR Medicine, and a past president of the American Urological Association (AUA), said the USPSTF has taken a step in the right direction. Messing, who has conducted research on prostate cancer screening, also said:

“The major thing is that this should be a discussion,” Messing said. “There are many tradeoffs and all men and their physicians should talk about them.”

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