PSA testing (prostate cancer screening) benefits and harms have been fiercely debated in recent years, but a new study has shown that the benefits of testing could outweigh the negative.
Researchers from the Netherlands used data from past cancer studies, as well as a mathematical model, to calculate that, on average, annuals PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing adds three healthy weeks to a man’s life, reports Fox News.
While this study is promising, it does not mean that everyone should to out and get a PSA test, because the researchers believe that the net benefit or harm of screening will depend on how that particular person feels about the possibility of suffering from erectile dysfunction or incontinence as side effects of screening and treatment.
Dr. Harold Sox, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute in Hanover, New Hampshire, who wrote a commentary published with the new study, stated:
“We’re even more sure than ever that it’s important for doctors and their patients to talk about the prostate cancer screening decision and its potential downstream consequences. Now we have some real scientific evidence that a person’s choice probably should reflect what the net benefit is for them.”
Boston.com notes that the new study may put into question the recommendation of the government task force who recommended against PSA screening just three months ago, with the possibility that their recommendation could have been too hasty. Study leader Evenline Heijinsdijk stated that:
“Individuals and their physicians should discuss and decide for themselves. We think that limited screening can be useful; therefore we do not fully agree [with the task force].”
Dr. Sox stated that
“Before I saw this new study, I thought the task force made a reasonable recommendation given the frequency and severity of side effects from prostate cancer treatments. But the evidence suggests that men can either gain or lose.”
Would you consider getting PSA testing, knowing that the annual prostate cancer test could add an average of three healthy weeks onto your life?
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