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Men face decisions amid screening debate

As medical professionals around theUSdebate the merits of prostate cancer screening, men who care about their health have some decisions to make. This stems back to the US Preventive Service Task Force’s recommendations that men 50 and older should be informed of the risks and benefits before choosing PSA testing.

Three doctors were in this debate. Dr. David Anderson, a urologists at CoxHealth, Dr. Jim Blaine, an independent Springfield physician in family practice and Dr. Bruce Roth, professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. David Anderson stated “the task force’s draft recommendation discouraging the use of the PSA test may lead patients to discount the seriousness of prostate cancer and obstruct physicians’ efforts to help patients make informed decisions.” Dr. Jim Blaine added “There is no risk whatsoever in the PSA test itself, it’s like a lot of other things; it’s what you do with the results. Without PSA testing, many dangerous prostate cancers would not be diagnosed early.” Dr. Bruce Roth stated “he welcomes the task force’s report, citing numerous hazards along the path that begins with screening.”

The task force proposed downgrading the PSA test from category C (offer/provide this service only if other considerations support offering or providing the service in an individual patient) to D (discourage the use of this service.) The task force is reviewing all public comments submitted through the fall. There is no set date for issuing the final recommendation.

All three physicians agree that when it comes to their patient’s with elevated PSA levels, they never take action on a single elevated result, but they compile multiple results and analyze. “It’s something not trivial,”Blainesaid. “If you take away the PSA test, how are we going to diagnose it? By the time it becomes symptomatic, it’s often gone too far to end up with a cure.”

CPC agrees with all of the physicians. PSA testing helps evaluate the patient’s levels overtime, however men should also undergo routine digital rectal exams as well.

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