Why Prostate Cancer Screening Could be Headed in a New Direction

Scientifically, the prostate is an organ that produces seminal fluid a type of fluid that allows for the transportation of sperm. The prostate allows for reproduction not only in humans but including mammals and other different types of animals.

But the prostate is also known to develop cancer in men. Research has shown that there are more than 200,000 US cases per year of prostate cancer. But a new recommendation by the United States Preventative Services Task Force provides advice for men who are at risk of developing prostate cancer.

Previously the United States Preventative Services Task Force once said that middle-aged men should not get the blood test for prostate cancer. However, on Tuesday the health agency now argues that particular people may benefit from the blood test however they must understand the potential risk involved with the procedure. Ultimately the health panel claims that men between the ages of 55 to 69 should talk to their physician about the advantages and disadvantages of the PSA test. Most importantly, African Americans and people with a genetic history of the disease should ask their doctor about getting screened. That said, those who are 70 years old and older should not get screened for prostate cancer.

This new advice comes in stark contrast to what the panel suggested five years ago. In 2012 the task force announced that men should not get tested saying that there was no evidence of benefits that outweigh the harm from an overdiagnosis or overtreatment of prostate cancer. In fact, nearly a decade ago the same group argue that there was little evidence that the PSA test helped younger individuals and men older than 75 years old should not be screened.

Why is the task force now recommending a change?

The health panel reports that new research shows men tested between the ages of 55 to 69 may reduce their chances of actually dying from the disease. In addition, new research has shown that preventative actions such as repeated PSA testing can help men diagnosed with cancer avoid overtreatment.

How does the prostate cancer test work?

The PSA test is a simple test that allows for researchers to identify a particular protein. Elevated levels of this particular protein may be a sign of cancer. However, this can also be attributed to other biological functions such as an infection or an enlarged prostate. Ultimately the goal of the PSA test is to identify cancer earlier on before it becomes terminal.

The biggest issue with the PSA test is that prostate cancer grows slower than other types of cancers. Ultimately, men who have prostate cancer will die of other causes and will never experience symptoms.