PSA Test: New Studies, Same Old Questions

The editorialist goes on to say:

"Neither set of findings seems definitive... (The) decisions to publish now can be criticized as premature, leaving clinicians and patients to deal with the ambiguity.

"The implications of the trade-offs reflected in these data, like beauty, will be in the eye of the beholder... As a result, a shared decision-making approach to PSA screening, as recommended by most guidelines, seems more appropriate than ever."

Shared decision-making about getting a PSA test and digital rectal examination for the early detection of prostate cancer is exactly what the American Cancer Society recommends. You need to talk about prostate cancer screening with your doctor or other health care professional. You need to know the risks, benefits and harms that can occur as a result of screening for prostate cancer before you embark on getting these tests as part of your routine medical care.

Back to the Drawing Board?

What is the impact of these reports?

Unfortunately, now armed with the knowledge I have been waiting for, I am completely underwhelmed.

Our recommendation regarding prostate cancer screening is no different now than what the society has been saying for years. The only difference now is that the long awaited studies have been reported. And our message hasn't changed.

Maybe more men will give some thought as to whether they really want or need a PSA test and rectal examination. I don't think that is a bad thing.

At first blush, my reaction was that these studies don't really give us the answer we were waiting for. But on further reflection, maybe they did -- sort of like not making a decision is, in fact, a decision. Perhaps not getting a clear answer to the question as to the value of prostate cancer screening is, in fact, a clear answer.

At the end of the day, each of us will have to be our own judge on the merits of the case and what we want to do for ourselves when it comes to the early detection of prostate cancer.

Len Lichtenfeld is deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. You can view the full blog by clicking here.

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Do you want to know more about prostate cancer symptoms, risk factors, tests or treatment? Visit the ABCNews.com OnCall+ Prostate Cancer Center to get all your questions answered.

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