Prostate Cancer Screening

Question: Should I be screened for prostate cancer?

Answer: No. There is no evidence that screening for prostate cancer is worthwhile.

However the message given by some doctors and health agencies can be confusing. Some men are offered “Informed Choice” rather than screening. This means they are asked whether they would like to be tested for prostate cancer using a blood test that measures PSA (prostate specific antigen). Whilst it may sound attractive to offer people choice over whether to have a screening test or not this may do more harm than good. It is not reasonable to expect people to make choices when there is genuine uncertainty over what to do with the result of a test – and there is uncertainty. PSA testing can pick up prostate cancer before it would otherwise present clinically (for example with difficulty passing urine), but we do not know whether treating prostate cancer at this early stage is better than treating it later on. Moreover medical opinion is divided over what the right treatment for prostate cancer is. Until we have the results of further research, screening for prostate cancer should not be done and doctors should be discouraged from offering any form of testing or examination for this purpose.

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