That's why a PSA test should be part of a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but the diagnosis should also include other risk factors, such as family history, Nam said.
The report was published in the July 16 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The panel's conclusions were based on a study that indicated PSA screening could reduce deaths from prostate cancer by 20 percent among a group of men with more than 10 years of life expectancy, even though it did not cut deaths in other men.
The panel could not agree on when PSA screening should start, Nam noted. However, he thinks 50 is a good time for most men to get their first PSA test. For men who have an increased risk, screening should start earlier, Nam added.
Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said "this is an attempt to educate men about the pluses and minuses of the PSA test, which is good."
PSA, however, is only one factor that can help men understand if they are at risk for prostate cancer, D'Amico noted.
"The other things that need to be discussed are whether they are at high risk for having high-grade prostate cancer -- the kind that kills you," D'Amico said.
These factors include being black or Hispanic, having an abnormal rectal exam or being older and having a family history of prostate cancer, he said.
The age factor is something that is often underestimated, D'Amico added. "The risk of prostate cancer increases with age," he explained.
And, older men are more likely to die from prostate cancer -- 50 percent of prostate cancer deaths are in men over 75, D'Amico said.
When men see their doctor they should discuss whether they are at risk for prostate cancer. If they are, then a PSA test should be considered. If they are at low risk, a PSA test might not be appropriate, he said.
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