October 10, 2011
Lee Richstone, MD
Manish Vira, MD
This past week, it was hard to escape hearing news regarding the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) upcoming release of recommendations regarding prostate cancer screening and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. Once again, millions of men and their loved ones are left to sort out the conflicting messages and try to make an informed decision regarding prostate cancer screening.
For more than two decades, annual PSA testing of men aged 50 or older in combination with digital rectal examination (DRE) has been the standard screening approach for the early detection of prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer diagnosis in men with an estimated 250,000 new cases in 2011. Despite the perception in the media that prostate cancer is not dangerous, it is the third leading cause of cancer death in men, causing more than 30,000 deaths annually. While many men may die of their prostate cancer, the majority of others will go on to live long lives and die of other causes--even if their prostate cancer is never treated.
Herein is the dilemma.
Prostate cancer has two faces: one a killer and the other a virtually harmless “disease,” that nevertheless affects patients with all of the anxiety that accompanies the diagnosis of “cancer.” PSA testing as a screening test fulfills its requirements, i.e. it is inexpensive, easy to perform (simple blood test), and most importantly, detects prostate cancer at an early stage when it is potentially curable. Full Post - to Detail View