KEY POINTS

  • A recent study was made on a number of American men suffering from prostate cancer
  • It revealed that sufferers of the disease are increasing among men aged 50 or over
  • Researchers say this might be the result of previous recommendations against early screening

A study published Wednesday revealed that instances of American men who are 50 years old and above having advanced prostate cancer are increasing. On the other hand, cases of early-stage disease have dropped.

Prostate-Specific Antigen

The research examined cases diagnosed from 2005 to 2016, a period where federal guidelines warned against a prostate-specific antigen or PSA screening for prostate cancer detection. According to the guidelines, the overall benefits of the test did not outweigh the risks involved.

This screening method involves taking blood samples from a man and having a laboratory analyze and measure the PSA level in the sample. The results are, oftentimes, reported as nanograms of PSA for every milliliter of blood. prostate-screening-declines prostate-screening-declines Photo: marijana-1 - Pixabay

An Emerging Trend

Dr. Ahmedin Jemal speculated that the prostate cancer trends, which have been observed in the new research, may have arisen as a consequence of recommendations against screening. This has led to previously undetected cases that have now advanced. Dr. Jemal is the scientific vice president for surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society and the lead author of the study.

In the United States, around 192,000 new prostate cancer cases are diagnosed each year. Fortunately, most of these cases are considered slow-growing and are not life-threatening. Health experts also say it can take ten years or more for patients to experience symptoms, if at all, and may not be fatal. Nevertheless, reports say that approximately 33,000 die annually from the disease.

To Screen Or Not To Screen

There are concerns that diagnosing early cancers may lead patients to unnecessarily worry and even suffer anxiety. Treatments and biopsies can also leave men with a host of side effects like impotence and incontinence. However, concern also abounds that patients who do not undergo early screening may miss the chance of detecting cancers that may become aggressive and deadly in the future.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2008 warned against PSA screening for men who are 75 years or older. In 2012, the group issued another guideline, warning against routine screening for men of all ages. Finally, in 2018, the task force revised their earlier guideline and, this time, recommended individual decision-making for men who are aged between 55 and 69. The group maintained their advice against screening for those who are 70 years or older.