The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has increasingly surprising news these days. For example, they've changed their recommendation for mammograms to once every two years instead of once a year.
And cancel that prostate-specific antigen test, fellas. And probably the ultrasound, too. The USPSTF says you only need 'em if you're suffering symptoms. In fact, prostate screenings may actually be doing more harm than good.
“The principal risk is over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Most of the cancers that we detect are not cancers that would have ever gone on to cause a man harm in his lifetime,” panel co-chairman Mike LeFevre told AFP. “The vast majority of cancers don't need to be treated and yet about 90 percent of men getting a PSA-based diagnosis here in the United States end up getting treated, and the risks of treatment are significant.”
Don't worry! We're not the only ones confused. Theresa Morrow, co-founder of Women Against Prostate Cancer, says she's always been of the impression that early detection saves lives. And for sure, the rate of prostate cancer-related deaths has gone down since the recommendation was made for men to have annual screenings.
“Early stage prostate cancer doesn't have any symptoms, so there is no other way to detect it,” she said. “Most of the times, if symptoms are occurring, you're already at late stage cancer. The chances of then being able to cure it are a lot lower.”
So it looks like it's up to you, folks. Catch it early, and maybe be treated when you don't need to be, or catch it too late to be saved. We're kinda leaning toward the annual screenings ourselves.