Have Prostate Screening Guidelines Put African-American Men At Risk?

A recent prostate cancer study which found a 72% increase in advanced (metastatic) cancers in a decade has drawn renewed attention to prostate screening guidelines.

The PSA test, the best tool in diagnosing prostate cancer, also can create false-positives or detect cancers that are not life-threatening and for which treatment may cause undesired outcomes.
According to an op-ed in the New York Times, most medical guidelines recommend men weigh the benefits and limitations of PSA screening. However, in 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for prostate cancer.

The op-ed reported:
"The government guidelines stunned doctors who recognize the greater dangers of prostate cancer in African-American men. Many believe that the disadvantages of routine PSA screening are outweighed when it comes to high-risk populations, and they worry that the guidelines will lead to less screening for men who might benefit the most from it. Their concerns have been borne out: Recent studies note a decrease in PSA screening for all populations, including African-American men."
The American Cancer Society recommends men discuss the risks and benefits of PSA tests with their doctors — starting at age 45 for black men or younger for men with family history of prostate cancer.

The op-ed authors recommend:
"The discussion should acknowledge that African-American men are at a higher risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer, that they have an increased risk for aggressive disease at diagnosis, that there are significant advancements in the detection and staging of prostate cancer, that the PSA test is just one of many available to help make an educated decision, and that the importance of seeking high-quality cancer care with supportive services and clinical trial opportunities are paramount."
Read the full article: Prostate Cancer Isn’t Colorblind
Authors: Lannis Hall, Arnold D. Bullock, Angela L. Brown, Graham Colditz

We encourage all men to discuss prostate screening with their doctors.

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