The current screening methods for prostate cancer are quite controversial, and many doctors advise patients against them. However, there are a lot of men who still do it. Researchers from Brown University say that this happens because men are not informed on the advantages and disadvantages of the screening technique.
The main screening tool for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA). There are many doctors who strongly oppose this method, but most men appear to undergo the procedure. The main reason why they do this is the fact that their doctors do not discuss the pros and cons of the test with their patients.
Doctors do not discuss PSA risks with their patients
For the study, the researchers surveyed more than 111,000 men, and only 30 percent of them reported that their doctor told them about both the advantages and the disadvantages of PSA screening. What is worrying is the fact that 37 percent of men said that they did not discuss any of them with their doctor.
Over 60 percent of the men who participated in the survey did take the test. Thus, most of them underwent the procedure without being aware of the possible risks. This is quite alarming, since the test is not particularly the method that confirms prostate cancer.
Why is this procedure frowned upon?
The test measures the levels of the protein called prostate-specific antigen found in the prostate. A high level of this protein (more than 4 nanograms per milliliter) can indicate a problem with the prostate, such as an infection, an enlarge prostate, or even cancer.
Thus, the test can point to possible prostate cancer, but it does not confirm it. Actually, levels between 4 and 10 nanograms per milliliter render only a chance of cancer of one in four. Also, the testing is not done yet when this screening method is over. Doctors need to collect prostate cells for biopsy, and this process comes with side effects such as pain, blood in semen, or blood in urine.
If cancer is indeed confirmed, it might not have been such a harsh case. Statistics show that up to 42 percent of these cases were not so severe and they could have not caused any health problems. Thus, make sure you discuss the pros and cons of PSA properly with your doctor. Ask him or her directly about the procedure and if it is suitable for you, and avoid undergoing unnecessary testing.
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