The PSA test is the only available FDA permitted diagnostic tests method to recognize prostate cancer in men. But, the exam has recently been debatable for years because it’s not always accurate – causing some men unnecessary biopsies and unnecessary treatment.
What is controversial happening?
“Men should consider when using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – one of the most common prostate cancer screening method”, recommended the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Friday. According to the Task Force fingings, PSA test has affected more than 44 million men age 50 and older who typically are candidates for this test. Consequently, there is an increasing debate about the benefits and risks of screening tests.
So far, men often use the PSA test to measures the level of PSA (a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland) in the blood, since then to acknowledge whether he is at risk of suffering from prostate cancer or not?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the use of the PSA test along with a digital rectal exam (DRE) to assist detect cancer of the prostate in men 50 years of age or older. Throughout a DRE, a doctor places a gloved finger into the rectum and thinks the prostate gland via the rectal wall to check out for bumps or abnormal areas. Doctors often utilize the PSA test and DRE as prostate cancer screening tests; jointly, these exams can help doctors detect prostate cancer in men who have no signs or symptoms of the disease.
Result of risks during PSA test
Detecting tumors does not constantly result in saving lives: When used in screening, the PSA test can detect small tumors. Nevertheless, discovering a small tumor does not necessarily reduce a man’s opportunities of dying as a result of prostate cancer. PSA screening may identify very slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to endanger a man’s life. Also, PSA testing may not help a man with a fast-growing or aggressive cancer that has already spread to other parts of his body before being detected.
False-positive tests: False-positive test results (also called false positives) occur when the PSA level is elevated but no cancer is actually present. False positives may lead to additional medical procedures that have potential risks and significant financial costs and can create anxiety for the patient and his family. Most men with an elevated PSA test result turn out not to have cancer; only 25 to 35 percent of men who have a biopsy due to an elevated PSA level actually have prostate cancer (3).
False-negative tests: False-negative test results (also called false negatives) occur when the PSA level is in the normal range even though prostate cancer is actually present. Most prostate cancers are slow-growing and may exist for many years before they are large enough to cause symptoms. Subsequent PSA tests may indicate a problem before the disease progresses significantly.
The continuous debate of men using PSA test: should he or shouldn’t he?
Recently, doctors criticized proposals by a government-backed panel recommending against prostate cancer screening in healthy men — saying they went too far and may put some men at risk of the deadly cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which advises the government on health prevention methods, on Friday downgraded its recommendation on prostate cancer screening to a “D,” which implies it highly suggests against the service because “there is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.”
Until eventually we know more, the best option is probably to inform men of the risks and advantages of testing before they take the PSA test and let them decide whether they want to roll those iffy dice. This comes after a recent trend in medicine in which patients are more and more often being asked to take duty for decisions that used to be the province of medical doctors. This is either good or bad depending on how much you want to rely on your doctor.