News that the diagnosis rates for prostate cancer happen to be down might ring as music to some people’s ears. The findings, however, aren’t necessarily great news for all men who may find their opportunities to treat higher risk forms of the disease diminish right along with recommendations for early screenings.
A drop in prostate cancer cases reported in the United States of some 30 percent has been witnessed since the Preventative Services Task Force issued a recommendation against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening tests for men. This simple blood test once served as a main pillar in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.
The PSA was pulled from the recommended roster because of the harm often associated with the detection and treatment of prostate cancer. For men with low-grade forms of the disease, overtreatment could unnecessarily lead to incontinence, impotence and other unpleasant side effects. Deeming the PSA unreliable at best, its use in regular examinations has declined dramatically since the task force made draft recommendations in 2011.
To gain a better understanding of the recommendation’s implications, researchers looked at figures from the National Cancer Database from January 2010 to December 2012. Just 12 months after the new guidelines were issued, researchers found a 37.9 percent reduction in the number of low-risk prostate cancer cases diagnosed.
While sparing men with low-risk forms of the disease from biopsies and other invasive tests and procedures is preferred, the removal of PSA screenings may not bode well for all. Some doctors fear that medium- and high-risk cases will go undiagnosed and untreated. With that in mind, men are urged to discuss their prostate cancer risks with their healthcare providers starting around the age of 40. For men who are deemed at higher risk for the disease, a more aggressive screening protocol may be indicated. The best advice, however, will come from a personal healthcare provider who is in tune to a man’s specific risk factors.