Advanced Urology Associates

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Understanding Recommendations for Prostate Cancer Screening

Knowing when to get screened for potential health issues can be confusing, especially when recommendations change over time.  Prostate cancer, which affects 1 in 9 men, is something that every man should be checked for, although the timing depends on their risk for the disease.

“Until recently, prostate cancer screening was recommended for men age 50 with average risk for developing the disease,” said Tasha Horsley, a Nurse Practitioner with Advanced Urology Associates.  “Men with a high risk for developing prostate cancer should be screened at age 45, along with African American men and men with a first degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer younger than age 65.”

Previous recommendations also called for men age 40 to be screened if they have a first degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age.  “As of May 2018, recommendations have changed,” added Horsley.  “It’s been determined that prostate cancer screening should be an individual’s choice.  And for men age 70 and older, no testing is recommended.”

The reason for the change, according to Horsley, is that researchers feel the traditional PSA blood test is imprecise, leading to potentially unnecessary follow-up procedures.  The test is thought to detect low-grade cancers that may not represent a threat to the patient.  A standard screening procedure includes the PSA lab test and a physical exam.

“I’ve worked in oncology for over 9 years, and I’ve seen what can go wrong when a patient’s cancer isn’t detected early,” said Horsley.  “We’ve been finding younger patients with prostate cancer, many already in the late stages of the disease at the time of diagnosis.  If men don’t get screened according to the previous guidelines, we’ll have more men with late stage prostate cancer, which reduces treatment options.  If they get screened early, the late stages of this disease can be lessened or even prevented.  Early treatment typically results in fewer side effects and can extend a patient’s life.”

Click here for information about the importance of prostate cancer screening.