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The Source: Rethinking Prostate Cancer Screenings


When is the right time to start getting screened for prostate cancer, and what are the right tests?

Some questions seem so simple, but can elicit a number of different answers.  Right now there is a debate regarding the use of a once standard test, the Prostate-specific antigen test, was found to lack merit in terms of benefits to harm, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.  

The concern was that false positives and finding cancerous growths that weren't aggressive, and the complications associated with treating these men were greater than the early detection and number of men avoiding death from prostate cancer.

The recommendation to stop using the test shocked many patients who credit the PSA with saving their life, and many cancer doctors were surprised as well. 

A report released last week showed that the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has dropped significantly, about 18 percent. 

The test is being read in very different ways depending on how you felt about the recommendation to stop using the PSA. Supporters of the test are worried that life-threatening cancers aren't being detected early enough. Opponents celebrate the fact that less men will face unnecessary procedures that could negatively impact their quality of life.


  • Dr. Ian M. Thompson, Glenda and Gary Woods Distinguished Chair in Genitourinary Oncology at the University of Texas Health Science Center
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive