However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is now recommending that healthy men avoid getting regular PSA's. They say it offers men 50 and over little if any survival benefit... yet treatment for prostate cancer has significant side effects including erectile dysfunction and incontinence. Leon Pisciotta had both.
"I elected surgery... I thought that was the best option for me."
That was 11 years ago... did the PSA exam and subsequent treatment save his life? Leon thinks it did. but according to the task force it may have made no difference at all.
"There's no doubt in this country... and we know this... that we over treat probably up to fifty percent of prostate cancers."
Dr. Matthew Katz is a respected urologist and oncologist... He agrees with the new findings, but only in part.
"I think at a minimum we should be screening for risk... not just screening all comers but screening for risk. At this point what I would recommend is that if you're African American or you have a family history of prostate cancer I would still think you need to be screened for prostate cancer with a PSA."
"The problem with the PSA is that an abnormal test doesn't always mean a patient has cancer. And more importantly it can't tell the difference be the rare aggressive medistatic cancer and the far more common variety that may never cause symptoms during a lifetime."
"I do not believe that we can go back to saying we're not going to screen anybody for prostate cancer, because once you get to that point of medistatic prostate cancer we have little to know effective treatments."
"if the test just saves one life just one... it's worthwhile."
The new recommendations are likely to remain controversial... Discuss your risk factors with your doctor... Ask if the procedure is truly necessary.