Millions of American males are certain to have a new conversation with their personal physicians in the wake of Monday's news that PSA tests, commonly used to detect prostate cancer, do more harm than good. New guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says doctors should avoid using PSA tests to screen healthy men.
The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test measures levels of a protein in the blood that are elevated in the presence of prostate cancer, and the test has been a routine part of medical care for men aged 55 and older in the U.S. and other developed countries since the 1990s.
However, according to a report by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, cited by Bloomberg, the number of deaths avoided by screening are "very small" compared to risks from treatment, which "can include infections, incontinence, erectile dysfunction and death."
The Task Force's full report, which was based on studies of 250,000 men, was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.