A debate has been surrounding the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test used to detect the activity of cells in the prostate. PSA is an essential screening blood test, but controversy has been drawn from the fact that the test can present false positives. This is because there are more issues other than cancer that can directly affect PSA levels. Issues such as irritation, inflammation, and benign enlargement can influence PSA. A biopsy is also another test, but it’s uncomfortable and comes with a small risk of complications.
- According to the revised screening guidelines, the PSA test is no longer recommended for prostate cancer patients. This is because research has concluded that the benefits of PSA testing do not outweigh the risks of prostate cancer.
- Not all the doctors are pleased with the new guidelines. They argue that men in good health with a 10-15 year life expectancy should be able to choose whether to be tested without being discouraged from testing. However, the recommendations also suggest that patients should individually discuss PSA testing with their doctors. This will help to recognize and understand the risks and benefits of screening for the disease and make the right decision.
- A study confirmed that of the 28% of men at the age of 60 who were diagnosed with prostate cancer that was identified from high PSA levels, only 3% of them died from the disease. This means that the number of patients who die from prostate cancer is low.
Although there are complications in screening tests for prostate cancer, no one should skip screening for prostate cancer. Your doctor will help you determine a good surveillance ideal for your case. Men at high risk and those of 50 to 70 years of age should consider PSA testing. But those over the age of 40 who have not received a prostate cancer diagnosis, a digital rectal exam will do. Newer tests such as genetic marker tests, blood tests, and MRIs are also used in screening.