Cancer screening recommendations are complicated and sometimes contradictory, especially for guys when it comes to prostate cancer.
The US Preventive Services Task Force recently updated their guidelines for routine prostate cancer screening, the blood test known as the PSA test. Men between the ages of 55 and 69 are encouraged to discuss the pros and cons of screening with your doctor. In other words, a screening might be suggested.
In 2012 the group recommended no men get their PSA tested. Dr. Eric Klein of Cleveland Clinic says research shows that the PSA test saves lives.
"Men who are screened, men who are in the target age group 55 to 69 who are screened, had a 30 percent reduction in the likelihood of dying of prostate cancer and equally important, a 35 percent reduction in the likelihood of getting metastatic prostate cancer," Dr. Klein says.
Dr. Klein says the new recommendation is good news for men.
He believes that the decision about whether to have a PSA test performed should be handled on a case-by-case basis and should be a discussion between men and their doctors.
The task force acknowledged the fact that PSA screening has the tendency to 'over-detect' low grade cancers. And while the recommendation calls for screening to begin at age 55, Dr. Klein says that men who are African-American, or who have a family history of prostate cancer should ask their doctor about early screening.
Despite the task force's recommendation to end screening at age 69, there are instances when men who are older than 70 should be screened as well.
"We see lots of men over 70 who take care of themselves and have 10 or 15 or 20 year life expectancies and if we stop screening those men, then we're going to lose out and many of those men will die from their prostate cancer - many of them need treatment for their prostate cancer," Dr. Klein says.
Dr. Klein says the bottom line is that prostate cancer screening needs to be tailored to the individual. He hopes that the new recommendation will translate into more men having discussions with their doctor about this life-saving test.