The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has issued new guidelines regarding prostate cancer screenings. The panel is now recommending that most men should not receive routine PSA tests for prostate cancer, although prostate cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the United States for men.
The panel found that many men were receiving unnecessary treatment based on PSA test results and that because prostate cancer is such a slow-growing disease it isn’t actually life threatening. Additionally, the treatment for prostate cancer can leave many with lifelong problems.
The American Urological Association and the Urological Research Foundation strongly disagree with the panel’s findings. Dr. William Catalona, the founder of the PSA test, and medical director of the Urological Research foundation stated, “"If we were to stop PSA testing over the next decade or two, the prostate cancer death rate would double or triple." The American Urological Association stated, “We at the AUA still recommend the PSA, with its imperfections.” The “imperfections” that the AUA speaks of include side effects of treatment such as incontinence, impotence, stroke, and death. . According to the panel, out of every 1000 men who receive treatment for prostate cancer after a PSA test, one will develop a blood clot in his legs or lungs, two will have heart attacks, up to 40 will be left impotent or with urinary disorders, and one man will avoid death.
However there is no other way to screen for one of the deadliest cancers known to men in the United States and the only way to cure prostate cancer is to detect it early. According to the American Cancer society, prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer in men and is found most frequently in African-Americans. However, once detected 91% of men with prostate cancer will live for 15 years beyond diagnosis and the majority of deaths due to prostate cancer occur after age 75.
The panel making these new surprising recommendations is the same one that in 2009 recommended women wait until age 50 for mammograms, and only get checked every other year, instead of annual mammograms starting at age 40. The panel’s guidelines sparked controversy then and are again making waves with the new prostate cancer screening guidelines.
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