Several years ago, men were recommended to have routine PSA tests at the age of 50. But because most of them were subjected to unnecessary surgery and radiation treatments that resulted in severe side effects, research suggested that not all men should get the test.
Today, it is recommended that some men should undergo PSA testing after consultation with their doctors. The American Cancer Society recommends that men should understand their risks, uncertainties and potential benefits of PSA testing first before opting for it. Men at age 50 who are at average risk and those between the ages of 40 – 45 who are at high risk should consult their doctor about taking a PSA test.
Independent experts on preventive medicine are against PSA screening for prostate cancer because of a lack of proof that its benefits are higher than the risks. Although routine tests are no longer recommended, most men still opt to take annual PSA tests.
PSA screening can lead to misdiagnosis which leads to treatment and exposure to complications after treatment. Such complications include urinary tract complications, impotence, and erectile dysfunctions, among others. Men who are at average risks incur more harm from PSA testing than benefits.
- The American Urological Association guidelines – The American Urological Association does not recommend routine PSA screening for men from age 70 or older, or those who have a life expectancy of less than 10-15 years. Screening can be recommended for men at age 55-69.
Men at the age of 70 have a limited lifespan and therefore cannot benefit from the early detection of low-risk prostate cancer.
- The American Cancer Society guidelines – The American Cancer Society does not recommend PSA screening for men whose symptoms have not manifested and have less than 10-year life expectancy due to their age or poor health.
A chronic health condition will reduce the potential benefits of early diagnosis and treatment.
It is not possible to predict whether one’s low-risk cancer will progress to a more dangerous stage at the moment. The overall concern of the patient about cancer, their health, the risk factors such as treatment side effects will determine how often they will undergo PSA screening.