Should I or shouldn’t I? That’s the question that men face when it comes to being screened for prostate cancer. According to the National Health Institute statistics, 11.6 percent of men will have prostate cancer at some point in their lives. As with all cancers, prevention and early detection is key. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing has been an area of controversy in the medical community. This test measures the levels of PSA in the blood. The higher the level of PSA, the bigger the chance there is of having prostate cancer. The United States Preventative Services Task Force has advised against PSA testing for prostate cancer because of concerns that it can lead to over-treatment. They also argue that it’s not an effective screening method. A review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is calling that guideline into question as they are presenting new evidence that PSA testing does, in fact, lower the risk of mortality from prostate cancer.
They analyzed two major studies that argue against PSA screening using a new mathematical model. They measured the results against a control group of men who received no screening. With the new mathematical model, they showed that the screening reduced the risk of mortality by 25 to 32 percent. They are now saying that the guidelines about PSA screening should go under review considering the new findings.
One of the senior researchers, Ruth Etzioni, states that, even if the guidelines get revised, the decision about PSA screening will continue to be an individual one for men as the other factors that argue against PSA screening will still exist.
Source: Tsodikov A, et al. “Reconciling the Effects of Screening on Prostate Cancer Mortality in the ERSPC and PLCO Trials.” Annals of Internal Medicine. doi: 10.7326/M16-2586