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Updated Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Screening 7/10/2017 From the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force...

The guidelines regarding the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test have been recently updated by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of experts appointed by the government. Based on new research, men between the ages of 55 to 69 are advised to "make an individualized decision about prostate cancer screening with their clinician." This is a change from the 2012 recommendation that there should be no routine PSA testing at any age, which drew criticism from physicians and patients alike—many of whom believe a PSA test saved their life.

 

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men and is the second leading cause of male cancer deaths each year, affecting men with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men at a higher rate. The PSA test is a blood test that determines levels of the prostate-specific antigen protein. An elevated PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer, but it can also be caused by other conditions like an enlarged prostate. The importance of prevention cannot be overstated, but a PSA test is not a clear or certain indicator of prostate cancer, which has resulted in controversy over testing. However, recent research studies reviewed by the USPSTF panel have shown that PSA screenings save lives.

 

In addition, men with elevated PSA’s will benefit from regular surveillance and have a higher chance of delaying or possibly avoiding the need for treatment altogether. Urology Health Specialists’ Dr. Thomas Lanchoney says, “The PSA test admittedly has a number of issues and, as a result, many patients are diagnosed with a ‘clinically insignificant prostate cancer.’ In other words, these cancers may not cause any significant harm if simply monitored, rather than treated. Knowing this, we are now trying to do a better job of personalizing each patient's treatment so that aggressive treatment isn’t performed in unnecessary cases. For example, genomic testing on the biopsy tissue can be extremely helpful in clarifying the aggressiveness of a tumor and whether it should be treated.”

 

Although these revised guidelines are just that—guidelines—they have underscored the importance of good communication between doctors and patients. Dr. Lee Schachter of Urology Health Specialists facilitates open and honest discussions with his patients and says “All men with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should get a PSA test, even younger and healthier patients. I encourage my patients to get a baseline PSA test at the ages of 40 and 45, and annually starting at age 50. My philosophy has always been to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of getting a PSA test with my patients. Everyone should realize the test is not perfect, but when the patient is clear about the benefits as well as the risks of the screening, the pro’s far outweigh the cons and can prevent more serious problems in the future.”

 

Click to learn more about prostate cancer and PSA tests or contact your physician at Urology Health Specialists to set up an appointment...

 

 

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1974 Sproul Road
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