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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 1:00 am

Prostate exam up to men, panel says

Associated Press

CHICAGO – An influential U.S. government advisory panel is dropping its opposition to routine prostate cancer screening in favor of letting men decide for themselves after talking with their doctor.

The new draft guidelines released Tuesday echo those of several leading medical groups, but they don't make the decision any easier for men: With their doctor's help, they have to decide whether to take an imperfect PSA test that has a small chance of detecting a deadly cancer and a larger chance of triggering unneeded worry and treatment with serious side effects.

Men whose concern is reducing their chances of dying from cancer are sometimes willing to face the consequences and choose testing.

PSA screening to detect the most common male cancer is among the most heated topics in men's health. It involves a simple blood test for elevated levels of a protein that may signal cancer but also can be caused by less serious prostate problems. It can find cancer that frequently doesn't need treatment because it's too small and slow growing to become deadly. Doctors say there's no good way to tell which early cancers might become lethal. The next step is often radiation or surgery to remove the prostate, which may result in impotence and incontinence.