The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has changed their recommendations for PSA prostate cancer screening tests in men. After an extensive review of the literature they determined that routine PSA testing has caused more harm than good by leading to unnecessary and ill-advised treatments (like surgery and radiation). Those treatments will often leave patients suffering from side effects ranging from incontinence and impotence to stroke and death.
The biggest problem with the PSA test is that it cannot distinguish between inflammation of the prostate, slow-moving (or non-progressing) prostate cancer or more aggressive prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer among men, and occurs most often in African-American. But survival rates also are very high. The American Cancer Society finds that 91% of all men with prostate cancer will live for 15 years beyond diagnosis. According to the National Cancer Institute, 70% of prostate cancer deaths occur after age 75.
The PSA screening is a blood test that doctors have (until recently) run every year for male patients over 40. It is still available if you would like to continue to have yours checked. Unfortunately, at this time science has not given us a better prostate screening test, apart from a physical exam. At this time, if you have no symptoms, the consensus is to “not worry about it”. Symptoms of a potential problem include: trouble urinating, a decrease in the force of your urine stream, frequent nighttime urination, blood in the urine or semen, or pelvic discomfort. If you are experiencing any of these, call Dr. Cronin. In many cases we can treat simple prostate enlargement or irritation with natural products (and no side effects!)