Most Men Do Not Need PSA Exam

If a man does not have any prostate risk factors he can go his entire life without needing to take the PSA test, said members of the American Urological Association.

In an updated clinical guideline that was unveiled on Friday, urologists said that just men aged between 55 and 69, should consider getting a PSA test if they show symptoms or signs of prostate cancer.

The guideline said men should be tested only after discussing the entire pros and cons regarding the test with their physician. If they decide they should be tested, they should not have another test for at least 24 months.

Prostate specific antigen is measured in the PSA test. The antigen is an enzyme that helps to liquefy semen. The PSA testing had lost popularity among medical caregivers recently.

Many experts in health say the PSA test is not good at aiding doctors in determining which men might have the cancer that is life threatening and which men have a cancer that grows so slow that it is for all intends and purposes harmless. The treatments that follow and the biopsies of a PSA test can cause substantial health problems.

A measured approach is being taken at this time by the Urological Association. The new guideline recommendations have been based on clinical trial evidence and not a consensus opinion from urologists, as it was done in the past.

The guideline first acknowledges that the screening itself for prostate cancer is associated with potential harms both physical and psychological. For example, the biopsy causes pain and could cause infection, blood in urine or in semen along with other secondary effects.