Conditions

U.S. Panel Says Prostate Blood Test Not useful

Blood
A mini-pouch is filled with blood for test in a file photo. Thirteen Of Clubs/Flickr

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Friday said men checking for prostate cancer should no longer receive PSA blood tests.

Men checking for prostate cancer should no longer receive PSA blood tests because the test does more harm than good, a government panel says.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Friday analyzed previous research on whether routine screening reduces deaths and found there is at most, only little benefit, according to the Associated Press.

Treatment associated with prostate cancer may include biopsies, surgery and radiation, according to Dr. Virginia Moyer of Baylor College of Medicine, according to the report. Those procedures can lead to impotence, incontinence, infections and even death.

She said effort should be placed toward finding a better test than using one which doesn’t work.

The government’s National Cancer Institute says it is normal for men to have a low level of Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their blood.

“However, prostate cancer or benign (not cancerous) conditions can increase a man’s PSA level.

As men age, good and bad cancers become more common.

A man’s PSA level alone does not give doctors enough information to distinguish between benign prostate conditions and cancer, the NIH says.

The test is often used in conjunction with a digital rectal exam to help detect prostate cancer in men 50 years of age or older.

The NCI also notes the possibility of false-positive test results when PSA level is elevated but no cancer is present.

False-negative test results may also occur when PSA level is in the normal range even though prostate cancer is actually presence.

The NCI notes the test is controversial because “overdiagnosis” puts men at risk of complications from unnecessary treatment. 

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