The prostate specific antigen test is a convenient and relatively inexpensive way for early detection of prostate cancer. While efficacy of PSA is controversial in younger men, doctors say there is a general consensus that the test should not be given to men over 75. Despite this, a new study finds many physicians are suggesting and doing a PSA test on older men.
The decision to not screen older men with a PSA test is because the life expectancy without the test is nearly identical to men who have the test and undergo therapy for prostate cancer. Researchers reviewed information from a previous study to see who was initiating the idea and if physicians are discussing the risks and benefits of a PSA screening with patients before testing.
The study included information from 7,889 men who participated in a previous survey. Researchers report 32.5 percent of the men 75 years or older said they had a PSA screening during the last year. Among the men who had the test, 88.4 percent say their doctor suggested the screening and 66.5 percent reported having a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the test with their doctor before the screening was done.
Researchers say it is somewhat surprising so many physicians would suggest a screening in an elderly patient and they also say that the Ultimate, decision regarding the appropriateness of PSA screening in elderly men and the allocation of health care resources will have to be made by patients, physicians, and society working together. They say information about how patients and physicians interpret medical data on the PSA screening is critical to understanding the risks and benefits of this test in elderly men.