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PSA Testing Controversy

Prostate CancerMen face a new dilemma at their annual physical this year—should they be screened for prostate cancer? Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against routine screening for this form of cancer, regardless of age. Some doctors claim this will cause treatable prostate cancer cases to be missed.

The level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate gland, can be measured with a simple blood test. Until the USPSTF issued its recommendation, doctors routinely used the test to screen men 50 and older. The task force, however, concluded there is at least moderate certainty that the potential harms of PSA testing outweigh the benefits; many benign conditions, particularly prostate infections and enlargement, can elevate PSA readings higher than normal, prompting more aggressive testing.

Before deciding on the test, it helps for men to explore this issue with their doctor. Some physicians take a “wait and see” approach and retest several times over a few months before making a recommendation; others suggest an immediate biopsy if PSA levels are high. While a blood test is a benign procedure, a prostate biopsy is not. A high PSA reading coupled with an overly aggressive doctor can cause anxiety and result in additional—and possibly unneeded—medical treatment.

Source: James Occhiogrosso, ProstateHealthNaturally.com

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