For men in the United States, the guidelines for prostate cancer screenings have recently changed. Who sets these guidelines, and why are they different? Read on to learn about the prostate cancer screening guidelines and how they’ve changed.
If you have more questions about cancer detection and prevention, call the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-647-2811.
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What Are the New Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Screenings?
In 2012, the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) released a controversial recommendation about prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, a blood test that may signal prostate cancer. According to the statement, men were encouraged to not undergo a routine PSA screening because the potential harms — including false-positive results, over diagnosis, and treatment complications like erectile dysfunction — outweighed the benefits.
In 2018, however, the USPSTF updated its directive. The USPSTF now does not recommend PSA-based prostate cancer screening for men over the age of 70.
Why Have These Guidelines Changed?
The USPSTF’s 2012 recommendation was based on the fact that higher-than-normal PSA levels may not be caused by cancer. Certain medications, a urinary tract infection, a swollen prostate gland, and other factors can cause increased PSA levels. As a result, PSA screenings caused over diagnosis and overtreatment, which led to men receiving unnecessary chemotherapy to treat noncancerous conditions and mild cases of prostate cancer unlikely to cause symptoms or be deadly.
Today, health care professionals have other tools available to more accurately diagnose elevated PSA levels. From prostate exams to urine tests and imaging scans, doctors are now better able to identify the exact cause of changes in PSA levels.
To learn more about cancer detection and prevention, call the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-647-2811.
The USPSTF has updated the guidelines for prostate cancer screenings to reflect this knowledge. After a conversation with their doctor about the risks, uncertainties, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening, men should be able to make informed decisions about whether to be tested.
Start the Conversation About Prostate Cancer
Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. Use the USPSTF’s age guidelines to find the right time to start the conversation:
- Age 50 or above: Get tested if you’re expected to live at least 10 more years and have an average risk of prostate cancer.
- Age 45: Get tested if you’re at high risk for prostate cancer (e.g., if you’re a Black American or have one immediate relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer).
- Age 40: Get tested you have more than one immediate relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Don’t undergo prostate cancer screening if you have no symptoms and are 70 years of age or older. If you have more questions about cancer detection and prevention, call the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-647-2811.
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