The American Cancer Society urges every man to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of prostate cancer screening with his personal physician before making the decision about whether or not to undergo testing.
Prostate cancer is slow growing, so men who exhibit no symptoms and are not expected to survive for ten years should forego testing because it will not be beneficial to them. When deciding whether to undergo screening, overall health should be taken into account as well as age.
It is important to receive all the information available about the potential benefits, risks and uncertainties of screening for prostate cancer before making a decision. Men should receive this information first before undergoing screening. The screening discussion should occur:
After discussing the situation with a physician, men who choose screening should undergo a blood test that screens for prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. Physicians may also perform a digital rectal exam, or DRE, during the screening.
If the patient cannot make a decision about whether to undergo screening, the physician may make the decision after taking into account the man’s values, preferences, and overall health condition.
If the screening does not detect prostate cancer, the physician may recommend future screenings depending on the PSA blood test results as follows:
As the industry produces updated information about the risks and benefits of testing, men should be informed about the advantages and disadvantages of screening even if they have already made a decision about testing. Future discussions about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening are advised as the patient’s preferences, values and health change.
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