U.S. Panel: No PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer

Posted October 6th, 2011 at 7:10 pm (UTC-5)
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An expert medical panel is planning to recommend healthy men forgo a common test that screens for prostate cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is set to release a report next week saying the so-called PSA test is unhelpful, but not because it fails to identify people with the cancer.

In fact, the test, which measures the level of the prostate-specific antigen protein, is quite effective at detecting prostate cancer. But the panel says the vast majority of the cancers are slow-growing and do not need treatment. It says getting a positive result on a PSA test leads to further and more invasive testing and to treatments that can cause pain, impotence, and incontinence.

Moreover, the panel said even with early detection through the PSA test, about the same number of people die from prostate cancer every year.

The new recommendation is expected to be controversial.

The American Urological Association in its 2009 report notes that the value of PSA testing is debatable, in part because of strong evidence it leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. But the AUA says there has been a gradual, steady decline in deaths from prostate cancer since the PSA test was introduced.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer to affect American men, and according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, nearly 88 U.S. men die of the disease every day.