Should More Men Undergo PSA Testing?

November 03, 2016

Comedian Ben Stiller claims that his prostate cancer diagnosis is no laughing matter. The 48-year-old recently said that having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test caught the disease early and saved his life. He urged other men to get tested, starting with a baseline assessment while in their 40s.

But experts are divided on whether PSA testing should be universal. Some prominent urologists advocate for testing, citing Stiller's strategy of a midlife baseline as a good idea. Others, including Otis Brawley, MD, an oncologist who is chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, highlight the test's potential pros and cons.

"Many men will have a PSA test, will eventually be diagnosed with cancer, and will believe the screening was lifesaving," Dr Brawley wrote in a short essay posted on the ACS website the same day Stiller revealed his diagnosis. "On the other hand, even with careful screening, some men will die of an aggressive cancer."

Dr Brawley pointed out that no major health group recommends all men be screened. "The PSA test can be useful, but it is not perfect, not by a long shot," he wrote.


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