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Leading Urology Group Backs Away from PSA Tests for Prostate Cancer

Update Date: May 03, 2013 12:02 PM EDT
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A leading physician's group, the American Urological Association, has recently come out against controversial PSA screening for prostate cancer. In a dramatic reversal, the association announced that they believed that men under the age of 55 years old should simply refrain from prostate cancer screening altogether. The association added that, for men between the ages of 55 and 70, they should consult with their doctor before performing the screening, recognizing that, after such a discussion, most men will choose not to perform the screening. They say that men who choose to perform screenings should do so every other year instead of every year.

USA Today reports that this revision of guidelines is a clear reversal from previous policy positions held by the group. In fact, in the past, the association suggested that all men over the age of 40 should ask about the screening. Regardless, the group has changed their stance due to evidence that the benefits of PSA screening are limited. In fact, it does not even recommend the test anymore for men who are over the age of 70 and who are not expected to live for another 15 years.

PSA screening has come under fire for its limited benefits. The test is said to save the life of one man out of every 1,000 who have it. However, after the PSA test comes many other treatments, which can lead to impotence and incontinence.

The group does note that some men should continue to consult with their doctor about PSA screening, chiefly those who are considered to have a high risk of developing the disease. Men who are considered to be high-risk for prostate cancer are African American or men who have a strong family history of prostate cancer, which means that they had multiple close family members, like their father or brothers, develop prostate cancer when they were younger than 50 years old.

The decision brings the urology group in line with many other medical associations, many of which have started to back away from the PSA test. In fact, just last year, when the federal expert panel suggested that men avoid the screening test altogether, the urology group harshly criticized the decision.

However, some are concerned by the group's pivot. Dr. Richard Greenberg, the chief of urologic oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania, said to Reuters, "To just say, 'You shouldn't do screening because there's no benefit,' is I think the wrong message."

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