Prostate Cancer Screening: Harms and Benefits
Prostate Cancer Screening
Dr Elist Talks About Harms and Benefits of Prostate Cancer Screening in this post. The new guideline from the American College of Physicians (ACP) published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, recommend doctors to inform men without underlying symptoms that they’re unlikely to benefit from prostate cancer screening and may experience serious risk of various harms, and complications from biopsy or treatment that may include infection, incontinence, or impotency.
Based on these risks the US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against prostate cancer screening with the PSA test.
What is Prostate Cancer Screening?*
Prostate cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. This helps to find cancer at an early stage when it may be easier to treat.
Two tests are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE): A doctor or nurse will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. This allows the examiner to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for any lumps or other abnormalities.
- Prostate specific antigen test (PSA): The PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate.
As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands produce more PSA than others. PSA levels also can be affected by:
- Certain medical procedures.
- Certain medications.
- An enlarged prostate.
- A prostate infection.
Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your Prostate Cancer Screening results.