Many Men Turning Away From Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Screening

Though it is the most common and among the oldest techniques used to screen prostate cancer in men, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening seems to be losing its popularity as the number of men going for the tests dwindles.


In a recent report published in the American Journal of Men’s Health by a group of researchers based at the University of Memphis and University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), many men are not taking PSA screening seriously. This is taking place in spite of the growing cases of prostate cancer in men, and mass education and campaigns on early detection and treatment.


According to the report, this trend is blamed on lack of adequate information as well as poor communication amongst the patients and the health providers. The article suggested that discussions surrounding screening and treatment of prostate cancer aren’t sufficient and many men don’t see the value of going for the tests.


Chad LaGrange, M.D., and urologist at UNMC blames this on an earlier recommendation by the US Preventive Services Task Force in 2012 which suggested that PSA screening wasn’t really necessary especially in men who are below the age 55 and suggested blood testing as a more viable option. The task force stated that though the screening could detect the cancer, people who earlier didn’t have it could still develop it at a later stage. 


The American Urological Association encourages men aged between 55 and 69 years to go for prostate cancer screening. Studies have also indicated that men of African-American descent are more prone to the disease and they should seek the screening much earlier.


The conflicting information by the two bodies has the medical fraternity as well as patients confused on whether to continue with the earlier practice or focus more on simple blood testing. Some organizations warn against regular screening since it doesn’t have any tangible impact but exposes the patients to other health risks.


Dr. LaGrange, associate professor at UNMC and chair of the Edward and Sally Malashock Urologic Surgery says that because no side has laid down strict guidelines on the best path to follow, medics as well as patients are confused on which option to follow. This means that health providers only provide the bare minimum information which at times isn’t sufficient.


Soumitra Bhuyan, Ph.D. lead author, assistant professor at University of Memphis Division of Health Systems, Policy, and Management concurs with Dr. LaGrange and says that unless there is shared decision making, many prostate cancer victims will continue falling prey to the scourge yet it could have been prevented or managed if the right path was followed.