Men are getting new advice when it comes to prostate cancer screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends that men aged 55 to 69 decide for themselves whether they should be screened for the disease or not. But, the task force adds, the decision should be made after educating yourself about the benefits and the risks associated with the test. For years the task force boldly recommended that no men receive PSA screening for prostate cancer. The experts at Any Lab Test Now® agree with the change in direction: taking control of your health in an educated and proactive way is a smart move!
Educating Yourself about PSA
Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The prostate is a gland that makes up part of the male reproductive system. Some men have different symptoms for the disease (difficult and/or frequent urination, pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that won’t go away). Some men won’t have any symptoms at all. The PSA test available at Any Lab Test Now measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in a man’s blood. When a man has an elevated PSA, he could have cancer. That “could” is an important word because those elevated results could be caused by other conditions. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your doctor about your results and keep two things in mind:
- Your family history. The task force recommends that patients, who have a family history of prostate cancer, be aware of their increased risk of developing the disease. The CDC says men with a father, brother, or son who has been diagnosed is two to three times more likely to develop the disease himself.
- Your ethnicity. Researchers aren’t sure why, but prostate cancer is more common in African-American men. It also tends to start at younger ages and grows faster than in other racial or ethnic groups.
Baseline as a Lifeline
For years Any Lab Test Now has advocated that men perform the PSA test to provide a baseline, so you and your physician can monitor for any changes. Now the task force is recommending their changes, based in part on this same principle. They say there’s new evidence that shows men are using the results of repeated PSA testing as part of what they call “active surveillance”. Active surveillance has become a more common treatment choice for men with lower-risk prostate cancer over the past several years, and may reduce the chance of overtreatment – and the complications that can come along with that.
Take Control of Your Health
These new recommendations underscore the importance of taking a proactive stance when it comes to your health. It’s important for you to understand your genetic risks and talk about your concerns with your doctor so that you’re looking at the whole picture when it comes to your health. An educated patient is a smarter – and healthier- patient.