Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) came out against routine PSA screening for men, regardless of age, because the test often detects harmless tumors, leading to unnecessary treatment and side effects.
But the USPSTF stance is controversial, and Roth said these new findings highlight how complicated the issue is. He and Brawley said the study doesn't offer any solid answers, either. For one thing, the findings do not show whether having intermediate- or high-risk tumors diagnosed by PSA screening actually cut men's risk of dying from the cancer.
Brawley said he is in the camp that believes PSA screening should be done on a very limited basis.
Roth pointed to the recommendations of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which sponsored the meeting. ASCO suggests that doctors discuss PSA screening with men likely to live for at least 10 more years.
The reasoning is that elderly men in poor health are very unlikely to see any benefits from PSA screening.
"I don't think we can make a blanket recommendation for all men on PSA screening," Roth said.
Learn more about prostate cancer from the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Abdenour Nabid, M.D., associate professor, Sherbrooke University Hospital, Sherbrooke, Canada; Bruce Roth, M.D., professor, medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.; Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society; American Society of Clinical Oncology, news release, Feb. 12, 2013
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