This issue has been looked at extensively. The results are not as you may expect. . .and backed by studies with 341,351 patients! Prostate cancer is detectable in ½ of men at age 50 and nearly 80% at age 80. Only 3% of all men die FROM prostate cancer. The goal of cancer screening is to detect tumors in people who have no symptoms.
The meta-analysis of those 340,000+ men showed that PSA screening conferred no benefit in prostate cancer mortality. Based on the evidence, PSA testing should not be used for prostate cancer screening in low-risk men.
Those men at high risk have
- first-degree relatives with prostate cancer (the more first-degree relatives, the more risk) or
- are African-American (as the prostate cancer may be more aggressive).
The harm of PSA testing includes worrying over falsely positive results and problems from those interventions include infection, bleeding, long-term urinary incontinence or impotence. Current guidelines from the American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society recommend that physicians “discuss” PSA screening with the patients. The United Kingdom goes as far as disallowing PSA screening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a booklet about prostate cancer screening. Find it at http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/pdf/prosguide.pdf.
Hope this helps!