The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is a highly respected organization. On July 16th 2012, a committee of experts from ASCO published a provisional clinical opinion regarding PSA screening in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. This information is also summarized in the July 24th, 2012 issue of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Bulletin. Briefly, ASCO experts concluded that for men with a life expectancy of 10 years or less, “it is recommended that general screening for prostate cancer with total PSA be discouraged, because harms seem to outweigh potential benefits.” However, for men with life expectancies of greater than ten (10) years, “it is recommended that physicians discuss with their patients whether PSA testing for prostate cancer screening is appropriate for them. PSA testing may save lives but is associated with harms, including complications, from unnecessary biopsy, surgery, or radiation treatment.” Thus younger men may have meaningful benefits from PSA screening but this can be accompanied by a risk of harms. These aspects must be balanced in order to arrive at a plan of action if warranted.
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