The initials PSA aren’t popular with many men who know a high count during a physical could lead to a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Now a Canadian study is questioning whether the test for PSA — prostate specific antigen — is necessary in most cases.
The study, led by Dr. James Dickinson of the University of Calgary, appeared Tuesday online in the CMAJ Open, the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
A University of Calgary news release about the study noted that prostate cancer is typically a very slow-growing cancer.
In most cases, men are better off not knowing they have it, Dickinson contends.
“Screening causes substantial increases in the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, especially before 70 years of age,” he said. “However, most would never have known about it otherwise, and died of other causes at a normal age.”
Treatments for prostate cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation take a physical and mental toll on the body, Dickinson said. The treatment is worthwhile, he said, for only five out of a thousand men.
The study suggests that men should be screened for prostate cancer only if they’re experiencing symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of prostate cancer include trouble urinating, decreasing force in the stream of urine, blood in the semen, discomfort in the pelvic area, bone pain and erectile dysfunction.