There is an ongoing debate when it comes to prostate cancer screening, which can cause confusion and hesitation among doctors. Some believe there is not enough evidence to support screening the general population, while others suggest it is appropriate. New guidelines have been released to better help doctors decide on prostate cancer screening, and how to have an open conversation with patients about screening and treatment.
Authors of the new guidelines suggest that men over the age of 45 with a 10-year life expectancy for prostate cancer should be screened with a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Health care providers should educate patients about the use of both tools for screening and evaluating prostate cancer risk.
If more information is required by the patient, the provider should be willing to open the discussion. If uncomfortable or time is not permitting, the patient should be sent to someone who can better assist them and answer their questions.
If the DRE comes back normal and PSA is below 1.5 ng/ml, the health care provider should consider prostate cancer screening every five years. A biopsy is not necessary unless the risk of an aggressive tumor is present – this, too, should be discussed with the patient.
Lead author, Dr. Matt Rosenberg, said, “The primary care provider is on the front line with regards to early detection of prostate cancer. In fact, they are responsible for 90% of the labs drawn in screening. Getting rid of the evaluation for prostate cancer altogether is a bad idea, but intelligently using the tools we have is certainly within the best interest of our patients.”
The guidelines were published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.