BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Screening for prostate cancer is getting a little more personalized for men. New guidelines released this week by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a national volunteer panel of health experts, changed its earlier recommendation on PSA screening.
PSA screening is a simple blood test that checks for a protein produced by the prostate. Higher PSA levels can indicate the presence of cancerous tissue. Previously, the Task Force guidelines did not recommend any PSA screening for any age group of men. That's because data found about 40 percent of men with prostate cancer won't die from the disease, and diagnosis and treatment of the cancer can come with side effects.
However, the new guidelines advise that men ages 55 to 69 should make the decision to screen or not screen individually with their doctor. They also recommend against screening for men 70 and older. Find more information on the guidelines here.
Radiation oncologist, Dr. Charles Wood with the Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, says the "about-face" is a surprising move, but one he agrees with.
"This falls in line with personalized, individual care, shared decision making, having guidelines, but really catering to the individual patient," said Wood.
The newest guidelines also fall in line with other groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association.
Wood points out the guidelines are for healthy men, with no symptoms and that men with symptoms like pelvic pain or blood in the urine should seek medical help immediately. He also adds men can always talk to their doctor about questions, regardless of guidelines.
"When you get to age 70 you are still allowed to have that conversation with your physician. There are 55-year-old men who are very sick and 80-year-old men who are healthy as a horse," said Wood.
If you do not have a primary care doctor, don't worry. The Cancer Center has several free events for men to consider PSA screening.