A recent study released by the American Cancer Society found that far fewer men in the United States are being diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and screened for the disease.
This may have occurred as a result of recommendations made by an influential panel which recommended against routine screening in men ages 75 and older in 2008, and then for men of all ages in 2012. The changes were made on the grounds that the benefits of screening likely don’t outweigh the harms.
The most important takeaway from this study is that every man, aged 50 and older, needs to talk to his physician about the risks and benefits of PSA screening. This is especially important for men with a family history of prostate cancer. Although the occurrence of prostate cancer is often sporadic, it can also run in families; therefore, an individual with a strong family history may benefit more from annual PSA screening than an individual without.
An annual medical history and physical exam by a primary care physician is the most important aspect. This should also include a discussion regarding PSA testing, including the benefits of a possible early detection versus the risks of potential unnecessary procedures. This allows every individual to make a decision that is best for them.
While annual PSAs may not be appropriate for everyone, there is plenty of evidence that shows the benefit of PSA and the identification of earlier stage prostate cancers.