Research examines prostate cancer testing and treatment

Jan 9, 2012

There's more evidence that for most men, getting an annual PSA test doesn't help reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer. Experts say men diagnosed with prostate cancer need to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment.

Research led by Washington University has tracked prostate cancer in more than 75,000 men for over a decade.

Study lead Dr. Gerald Andriole says for most men, the odds of dying from prostate cancer are low, and annual screening isn't necessary.

In fact, Andriole says for older men with slow-growing tumors, the side effects of aggressive prostate cancer treatment - like urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction - may not be worth it.

“We should take a more nuanced approach, and only screen those men who are young, who are healthy, those with a strong family history of prostate cancer, and African American men,” Andriole said.

Andriole does recommend that all men get a baseline PSA test sometime in their 40s, and discuss with their doctor whether any further testing is needed.