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Screening for prostate cancer-checking for signs of the disease when there are no symptoms-is done with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. In the United States, about 13 out of 100 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime during their lifetime.footnote 1 This means that 87 out of 100 men won't be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
Finding prostate cancer early leads you to some big decisions. Most prostate cancer grows slowly. And the side effects of treatment may change your quality of life. It's possible that you may not be able to have an erection or control urination after surgery. These are important things to think about. If you are older with other serious health problems, these side effects may seem worse than early-stage cancer that may not grow much during your lifetime. But for active or younger men, treatment may help them live longer.
So before you decide to have a PSA test, talk with your doctor. Ask about your risk for prostate cancer, and discuss the pros and cons of testing. Some men will not want to live with the side effects of treatment. Other men are more concerned about survival. It is important to learn all you can and talk to your doctor before making a decision.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against routine PSA tests to look for prostate cancer. The USPSTF found that testing does more harm than good. Men who are tested may end up getting treatment they don't need, and those treatments can cause other problems. Few, if any, men are helped to live longer by having the test.
Other expert groups, such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Urological Association (AUA), disagree.
For more information, see the topic Prostate Cancer.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
CitationsNational Cancer Institute (2016). SEER cancer stat facts: Prostate cancer. National Cancer Institute. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/prost.html. Accessed February 1, 2017.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerChristopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Current as ofMay 3, 2017
Current as of: May 3, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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