Is regular prostate cancer screening even necessary?

Maria Cohut, Medical News Today – A medical board considered whether or not regular screening for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen test is truly necessary, despite the possible risks it carries.

| Should men opt for routine screening for prostate cancer?

According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, men in the U.S. face an 11 percent lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer and a lifetime risk of prostate cancer-related death of 2.5 percent.

Previous studies suggested that one effective way of detecting this type of cancer early is screening.

This involves prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, a blood test.

However, PSA testing is not always accurate and might lead to unnecessary — and invasive — biopsies, which may harm a man’s quality of life.

False positive PSA results can also result in overdiagnosis and overtreatment, which may affect a man both mentally and physically, thus impacting his overall health.

So, a commission of international experts and men at high risk of prostate cancer has reviewed and analyzed the existing studies, weighing the benefits and risks of routine prostate cancer screening.

More harm than good?

Following a detailed analysis, the members of the panel concluded that routine screening for prostate cancer should not be recommended to most men as it may end up doing them more harm than good.

“Based on moderate- and low-quality evidence, PSA screening seems to increase the detection of prostate cancer of any stage, increases the detection of stage 1 and 2 prostate cancer, and slightly decreases the detection of stage 3 and 4 prostate cancer,” write the review’s authors.

“Meanwhile,” they add, “PSA screening is associated with considerable biopsy-related and cancer treatment-related complications.”

“We estimated that, for every 1,000 men screened, approximately one, three, and 25 more men will be hospitalized for sepsis, require pads for urinary incontinence, and report erectile dysfunction, respectively.”

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