Recommendations for the age of prostate cancer screenings are changing.
The guidelines, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, come from the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts that makes recommendations to the American public about preventive services. They are an update to previous guidelines published in 2012 that recommended against routine screening due to the risks involved in additional testing and treatment.
But according to new research, prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for men in the 55 to 69 age group could prevent 1.3 deaths and 3 cases of cancer metastases for every 1,000 men screened. Therefore, the task force concluded that screening does make sense for men in that age group, but that they should be aware of the potential risks associated with additional testing.
“Previously, we recommended against routine screening for prostate cancer,” said Dr. Alex Krist, vice-chairman for the US Preventive Services Task Force. “Now, we’re recommending that men aged 55 to 69 who are considering prostate cancer screening talk with their doctor about both the benefits and the harms of prostate cancer screening and have an opportunity to weigh their values in the decision.”
Benefits of prostate cancer screening can include identifying and treating a potentially lethal disease. Risks include the possible side effects of further diagnostic tests and treatment such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, as well as the psychological effects of a false diagnosis.