(BlackDoctor.org) — According to a government panel, the PSA blood tests that check for prostate cancer do more harm than good and healthy men should no longer receive them as part of routine cancer screening.
The recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will not be a surprise to cancer specialists…contrary to the controversial recommendations that the same panel made regarding breast cancer screening in 2009.
No major medical group recommends routine PSAs, and the government panel’s guidelines had long advised men over 75 to forgo them. The new recommendation extends that do-not-screen advice to healthy men of all ages.
Yet, the vast majority of men over 50 have had at least one PSA blood test. The assumption is that finding cancer early is always a good thing.
Not so, said Dr. Virginia Moyer of the Baylor College of Medicine, who heads the task force.
“We have put a huge amount of time, effort and energy into PSA screening and that time, effort and energy, that passion, should be going into finding a better test instead of using a test that doesn’t work,” Moyer told The Associated Press late Thursday.
Too much PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, in the blood only sometimes signals prostate cancer is brewing. It also can mean a benign enlarged prostate or an infection. Worse, screening often detects small tumors that will prove too slow-growing to be deadly. And there’s no sure way to tell in advance who needs aggressive therapy.