After a series of contentious debates about the value of the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA test as it's widely known, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued its final recommendation. The latest ruling recommends against the test for all men who do not exhibit symptoms of prostate cancer.
The test measures a protein in the blood, which is produced by the prostate gland, and when combined with other factors like age, race and family history, can help guide physicians in determining whether there is reason for a biopsy to screen for evidence of disease.
For years, the test has been credited for saving the lives of men who were otherwise healthy and exhibited no signs of cancer, yet it's also led to unnecessary and harmful treatments in others. This is the crux responsible for stirring passionate discourse among physicians, regulators, patients and families.
Therese Bevers, M.D
., professor in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, said the new guidelines
are likely to cause confusion and stress MD Anderson believes each patient should have an individualized conversation with their physician.
"We're very concerned with this recommendation against screening for all men because there are some small, but definite benefits associated with prostate cancer screening," Bevers said. "Men should have the option of having access to these benefits as long as they fully understand the harms associated with screening."