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Task Force Says Prostate Screenings For Men Aged 55 To 69 Years Should Be A Choice

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Years ago, older men automatically received prostate cancer screenings, but a new recommendation says that the decision to get a screening should be up to the patient.

Prostate Cancer Screenings Should Be A Patient's Choice

On May 8, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued its final recommendation for prostate cancer screenings. The panel said that men aged 55 to 69 years should consult with their physicians to discuss the benefits and harms of getting a screening. In 2012, the panel was against routine prostate screenings due to the risks.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA.

"Now, we're recommending that men aged 55 to 69 who are considering prostate cancer screening talk with their doctor about both the benefits and the harms of prostate cancer screening and have an opportunity to weigh their values in the decision," said Dr. Alex Krist, vice-chairman for the US Preventive Services Task Force.

New research has indicated that screening for prostate cancer could prevent 1.3 deaths and 3 cases of cancer metastases for every 1,000 men screened.

The USPSTF said that men aged 70 and older should not be screened because of risks, such as the likelihood of false positives and increased testing.

Pros And Cons Of Prostate Screenings

The American Cancer Society says that only lung cancer kills more American men than prostate cancer. Older men are also more vulnerable than young men. Screenings allow patients to treat the disease before it becomes fatal.

However, there are many risks to getting a prostate screening. There could be additional testing, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and erectile dysfunction. Patients should consider their family history and medical conditions before agreeing to do a prostate screening.

How Will Medical Professionals Respond?

After the USPSTF released its findings, the American Urological Association issued an immediate response agreeing with the recommendation.

"The final recommendations released today support screening in this age group and are in direct alignment with the AUA's clinical practice guideline and guidelines from most other major physician groups — including the American Cancer Society, the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network —all of which advocate for shared decision making," said AUA President J. Brantley Thrasher.

With the new recommendation, doctors should help with the decision-making process by providing patients with information.

"Those can be written or web-based information that really outlines the pros and cons of the various alternatives," said Dr. Richard Hoffman of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

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