Healthy men shouldn’t get routine prostate cancer screenings, says updated advice from a government panel that found the PSA blood tests do more harm than good.
Despite strenuous protests from urologists, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is sticking by a contentious proposal it made last fall. A final guideline published Monday says there’s little if any evidence that PSA testing saves lives — while too many men suffer impotence, incontinence, heart attacks, and occasionally even death from treatment of tiny tumors that never would have killed them.
The guideline isn’t a mandate. The task force stresses that men who want a PSA test still can get one, but only after the doctor explains the uncertainties. That’s in part because the panel found PSA testing hasn’t been studied adequately in black men and those with prostate cancer in the family, who are at highest risk of the disease.
The Obama administration said Monday that Medicare will continue to pay for PSA screenings, a simple blood test. Other insurers tend to follow Medicare’s lead.