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Prostate cancer screening gets thumbs down from leading doctor group

Consumer Reports News: April 09, 2013 09:23 AM

If you're younger than 50 or older than 70, you don't need to undergo prostate cancer screening. And if you fall between those ages discuss the pros and cons of the test with your doctor before undergoing it.

The new recommendations, from the American College of Physicians, which represents more than 100,000 primary-care doctors nationwide, also say that the test should only be offered to men ages 50 to 79, who, after having a thorough discussion with their doctor, "express a clear preference for screening."

Growing research shows that many of the cancers detected by prostate cancer screening grow so slowly that they would likely never spread beyond the gland and become deadly. But people diagnosed with prostate cancer often end up getting treated anyway, and that treatment often leads to incontinence or impotence and sometimes even deadly complications. In fact, some research suggests that as many men may die from complications of prostate cancer treatment as are to be saved by early diagnosis.

Researchers are reconsidering the advice on other cancer screening tests as well. For example, while colon cancer screening is still recommended for people 50 and older, the advice on breast, cervical, lung, and other cancers is changing. For details, see our article on the three cancer tests you need and the eight you can skip.

Screening for Prostate Cancer: A Guidance Statement From the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians [Annals of Internal Medicine]

Joel Keehn

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