While an estimated 200,000 American men are likely to present with prostate cancer each year, many men are not receiving the information they need to make informed decisions about screening and potential care. A recent change in screening guidelines has prompted confusion among men and their healthcare providers, potentially complicating the path to providing necessary treatment for men who do have this disease.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended in 2012 against using the prostate-specific antigen test on a routine basis. This simple blood test offers insights about the possible presence of prostate cancer. It does, however, tend to present a high frequency of false positives.
While the task force doesn’t recommend this test any longer, other medical organizations do. This is simply because the test, even with its false positives, opens the door for potentially life-saving treatments in men who have more advanced forms of prostate cancer. All of that adds up to a rather confusing situation for men and medical practitioners to sort through. The end result is that some men are not receiving the information they need to know about this disease and others are foregoing screening all together.
A recent study into the topic of prostate cancer information shed light on just how widespread the lack of information happens to be. Men were largely uninformed about prostate cancer screening, the types of prostate cancer, the side effects that may go along with treating the disease and the potential inaccuracies of the PSA test, researchers found.
Information is one of the first lines of defense in battling prostate cancer. With that in mind, researchers urge men in their later years to talk openly and frankly about prostate cancer, their risks and the potential need for screening. Whether the PSA test is used or not, men should discuss their personal risks for the disease with their healthcare providers and potentially undergo other routine screening that is available. Prostate cancer is often highly treatable in its earlier stages, which makes early detection so critical.