Prostate screening guidelines are shifting with a task force softening its opposition to testing in a draft recommendation that says the risks and benefits of the test are "closely balanced" for men ages 55 to 69.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) – a U.S. government advisory panel – was once opposed to routine prostate cancer screenings that were seen as having a "small chance of detecting a deadly cancer and a larger chance of triggering unneeded worry and treatment with serious side effects," according to CBS News.
According to new draft guidelines released Tuesday, men ages 55 to 69 are advised to talk with their doctors and determine for themselves whether they want to undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, The Wall Street Journal reported. The task force continues to recommend against PSA testing for men age 70 and older.
Prostate cancer leads to some 26,000 deaths per year, according to ABC News.
“A man should be allowed to discuss with his physician whether to have a PSA ordered or not,” said Dr. Jeff Karnes, a urologist, according to ABC News.
Tests that reveal high PSA levels may not necessarily mean the patient has aggressive prostate cancer. But the results could lead to biopsies, radiation, or surgery that carry risks including impotence, bladder and bowel problems.
“Many men will have a high PSA at some point in their lives, and most of those will not be prostate cancer but that will be something that the patient and doctor will be worried about,” Dr. Alex Krist, a member of the USPSTF, told ABC News.
Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a San Francisco internist and the panel's chair said the recommendation isn't one size fits all and allows men and their doctors to make health care decisions based on their individual concerns, according to CBS News.
The new guidelines considered research that found that "for every 1,000 men offered PSA screening, one to two will avoid death from prostate cancer and three will avoid prostate cancer spreading to other organs," CBS News reported. It also allows for active surveillance of men thought to be at high risk for prostate cancer.
“There is a close balance of benefits and harms, and that’s why it’s important for men to be involved in making the decision of whether screening is right for them,” Krist said, according to ABC News.
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