Dr. Robert Silverbrook, RWJ Medical Associates
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I’ve been reading a lot about prostate cancer screenings. How beneficial are they in detecting cancer, and is it something I should have done regularly?

The prostate specific antigen—or PSA screening—was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1994 for the early detection of prostate cancer. The level of PSA in the blood is strongly linked to the risk and outcome of prostate cancer. For example, a single PSA measure of less than .90 in a male at age 60 is strongly associated with a dramatic decrease in risk of prostate cancer. However, as with other types of cancer screenings, routine use of the PSA screening remains controversial.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends against using the screening as a detection tool, arguing that the screening doesn’t have overwhelming benefits and that the risks of the test, such as over-diagnosis and over-treating a patient, outweigh any of the benefits that may have been noted in clinical trials.

Most physicians are following recommendations made by the American Urological Association. They advise patients to talk to their doctors about the decision to have a PSA screening. They also advise that the screening should only be considered for men ages 55-69, as patients in that age range would benefit the most from the screening. Men who are outside of this age range should not have PSA screening done as a routine test.

— Dr. Robert Silverbrook, RWJ Medical Associates

This content is intended to encourage a healthy lifestyle. For medical advice and treatment, see a physician. Concerned about your health? Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjuhh.edu