Screening for early signs of cancer may seem like a no-brainer. Screening can catch tumors at an early stage, but research also shows that screening doesn’t consistently extend life span, and it can lead to aggressive and unnecessary follow-up tests or treatments that can leave men incontinent and impotent.
Some doctors even believe that for certain men the test causes more harm than good. In fact, new guidelines released Monday by the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommend that men 75 or older skip the test if they have no reason to suspect they’re at high risk.
For men younger than 75, the task force concluded there isn’t enough good evidence to recommend either for or against screening.
Some medical groups, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association, encourage all healthy men to start PSA screening by age 50.
Others, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, are more skeptical of the test and encourage men to get it only if they’ve fully considered the risks.
Given such conflicting advice, how do you know if it’s right for you? Most doctors agree that risk factors—such as a man’s age, race, overall health, and his family’s medical history—play a key role in tipping the scales. Here is how nine different men might weigh those factors.
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