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Expert Panel Suggests PSA Test May Benefit Some Men
Date:7/17/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Men with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should talk with their doctor about getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer, an expert panel recommends.

The recommendation, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), is a response to recent guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which in May recommended against PSA screening for prostate cancer.

The ASCO panel recommends doctors discuss the benefits and risks of PSA testing with their symptom-less patients who have a life expectancy of more than 10 years. For men who would probably die earlier, the risks outweigh the benefits, the panel said.

"Men really need to go to their doctor and have a discussion of the risks and benefits of getting the PSA blood test," said panel co-chair Dr. Robert Nam, a uro-oncologist at the Odette Cancer Centre at the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre of the University of Toronto in Canada. "We felt from our review that doing the PSA blood test does save lives in certain groups of men. That's where we differ from the task force recommendation."

Nam's point was that men with serious medical problems such as other cancers, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will most likely die from those diseases long before they succumb to prostate cancer.

For these men, treatment and the side effects associated with treatment might be worse than any benefit, he noted.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said the new gudielines "are very similar to recommendations from the American Cancer Society and other groups, most of which leave room for screening within the individual physicianpatient relationship."

"PSA has been a victim of its own success," Nam said. The test's inability to distinguish prostate cancer from an enlarged prostate, called
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