Prostate Cancer Screening

Three million American men face prostate cancer every year. Prostate cancer screenings are the best way to catch this condition early, for the best possible outcome.

But there is a lot of contradictory information out there on the subject. Which prostate screening recommendations should you follow? Who should screen for prostate cancer? Here’s some information that may help clarify the issue of prostate cancer screenings.

Do I need a prostate cancer screening?

Here’s what MANA doctor Chris S. Hardin, MD, FACP has to say on the subject of prostate cancer screening:

“Internists must think of the totality of the health of our patients. As such, we look at the benefits versus potential for harms for even something as innocuous appearing as a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test. I recommend against screening for prostate cancer in asymptomatic average risk men. This stance is consistent with the United State Preventive Services Task Force.”

“Even though prostate cancer is very common in men, it oftentimes does not grow to any significance to affect a man in his lifetime. Furthermore, screening is more apt to produce a false positive than actual positive test, subjecting an otherwise healthy man to “ill care.” This “ill care” can include further appointments, anxiety, and testing; testing that can cause fever, infection, urinary problems, pain, or bleeding.”

“Because of the uncertainty of a diagnosis of prostate cancer, most men undergo treatment which can include surgery, radiation, or hormonal therapies. Most of these men do not need this treatment due to the slow nature of this disease. This overtreatment can cause adverse events including erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, difficulties with bowel control, or surgical complications.”

Should I talk to my doctor about prostate cancer screening?

You should of course talk to your doctor any time that you have health concerns. Open communication with your physician is key in ensuring proper healthcare. However, it’s not recommended for healthy men at an average risk for prostate cancer who do not show symptoms to undergo prostate cancer screening. Dr. Hardin says:

“Men should always talk to their doctors about any prostatism symptoms– getting up to urinate throughout the night, urinary hesitancy, difficulty starting flow, or dribbling. This changes the above discussion and should require workup. The USPSTF is currently revising their statement on prostate cancer, but at this moment screening in healthy men is not recommended.”