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Survey: Men Want Prostate Cancer Test, Despite Risks

Value of PSA screening questioned (July 9)

In a new survey published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 54% of men aged 40 to 74 years said that they would still opt for a popular prostate cancer screening test despite recent recommendations that the test not be performed. Only 13% said they would choose not to be tested.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) recommends that middle-aged men not receive the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) because research has shown that the benefits of testing do not outweigh the risks, which include false positive results.

More than three quarters of the men who participated in the survey said they were not aware of the new recommendation, said lead author Linda Squiers, PhD. Most men understood the reasoning behind the new recommendation when it was explained, she noted.

Black men, men with higher incomes, and those who had had a PSA test in the previous 2 years were more likely to say they will not follow the new recommendation, according to the new study. Men who were somewhat or very worried about getting prostate cancer were also more likely to want testing. The 1,089 men who participated had no history of prostate cancer.

Seventy percent of the men surveyed said that they either had not discussed the potential benefits or harm of screening with their health care provider or do not remember such a discussion, Squiers added. Those who did remember such a discussion only remember hearing of the benefits of testing. “We need to do a better job of presenting both the benefits and harms of screening to all patients and explaining the science behind the recommendation in plain language so everyone can understand it,” she said.

The American Urological Association (AUA) has just released new clinical practice guidelines on prostate cancer screening. The AUA says that it cannot recommend for or against routine PSA screening for men aged 40 to 54 years who are at average risk for prostate cancer, but does recommend discussions about testing between physician and patient for men aged 55 to 69.

The AUA also advises that men aged 40 years or older who are at increased risk for prostate cancer, including black men and those with a strong family history, should discuss screening with their provider and then make their own decision about it.

Source: Center for Advancing Health; July 9, 2013.

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