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Are Men Aged 70 Eligible for a PSA Test?

The American Cancer Society states that most men are diagnosed with prostate cancer around the age of 66. A PSA is a blood screening that is conducted to find prostate-specific antigens in the bloodstream.

A normal PSA level varies with age. The test results for PSA are reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood. High levels of PSA indicate a sign of prostate cancer. Research has suggested that not every man should take the PSA test. The American Cancer Society recommends that men should consult their doctors about the risks, uncertainties, and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

Here are the age recommendations for PSA screening:

  • Men aged 50 who are at average risk for developing prostate cancer.
  • Men at age 45 whose risk of developing the disease is high. High-risk men are those of African American origin and those with first-degree relatives (father, son, brother) with a history of prostate cancer earlier in life, younger than 65 years.
  • Men with the highest risk should get screened at the age of 40. These are men with more than one first-degree relative with prostate cancer early in life.
  • The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommendations state that men between age 55 to 69 should talk to their physicians regarding the potential harms and benefits of screening. Later they can weigh their preferences and values before making a decision.
  • The screening will help to reduce deaths from prostate cancer in some men. However, screening can also cause potential drawbacks like false positives that may need additional testing like biopsies. It can also cause over-diagnosis and over-treatment.
  • PSA-based testing for men at the age of 70 and above is not recommended. This is because 70-year-old men and those older are not likely to benefit from the detection if their prostate cancer is low-risk. Since prostate cancer grows slowly, men with no symptoms who also don’t have a 10-year life expectancy will not benefit from the test.

The research suggested that PSA screening has led to many over-diagnoses and over treatments, causing men to suffer terrible side effects such as incontinence or erectile dysfunctions caused by radiation treatment or prostate cancer surgery. Many men ended up getting diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer that wasn’t lethal if it wasn’t detected.