Quick history lesson: In the 1990s, U.S. doctors adopted the prostate-specific antigen test — or PSA — to identify prostate cancer early, when it’s more treatable. While the PSA helped more men get diagnosed, concern was raised over the risks versus benefits of biopsies, procedures and treatment. In response, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force gave a controversial recommendation against routine screening with PSA in 2012.
But with new evidence from a variety of credible studies, they changed their recommendation in 2017. The current Task Force recommendation focuses on men having a conversation with their doctors about their risk for prostate cancer and the risks and benefits of screening.
Why did the guidelines change?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in males after skin cancer. According to projections by the American Cancer Society, there will be twice as many new prostate cancer cases diagnosed as lung cancer this year.
“The prevalence of the disease cannot be ignored,” said Wellstar Health System Chief of Primary Care and Medicine Service Line Dr. Jeffrey Tharp, a primary care physician. “Early-stage prostate cancer has higher survivability than prostate cancer diagnosed in later stages.”
Dr. Tharp pointed out that while guidelines have changed, so have the way doctors diagnose and treat prostate cancer. An elevated PSA does not automatically mean a cancer diagnosis. And when cancer is diagnosed, some care options have no side effects.
Read on to learn:
- Who should have a conversation with their doctor about prostate cancer screening, and when
- Who is at higher risk
- How the reason that’s holding some men back has changed
- What is a PSA and why having them at regular intervals is important
- Care options for prostate cancer