New Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines Could Detect Cancer Early, Save Lives

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently issued new guidance on PSA testing for the early detection of prostate cancer that may help thousands of men each year.

Previously recommending against screening, after considering new information, the Task Force has now concluded that PSA testing of 55- to 69-year-old men may prevent approximately 1.3 deaths from prostate cancer per 1,000 men screened. The new report was published on May 8.

Ian Thompson Jr., MD, President of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center and a urologic oncologist who is an authority on prostate cancer screening and treatment, responded to this news.

“Since the advent of PSA testing in the early 1990s, the United States has seen more than a 50 percent fall in deaths from prostate cancer. The evidence is clear that PSA testing is, in part, the cause for this very important trend.

“This revision of the task force guidance is extremely important,” he continues. “It now stresses that men should ask their physicians about PSA testing and that physicians should offer it to their patients. Decision-making tools are available to understand a man’s risk, including one that we developed:”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the U.S. Men with a father or brother with the disease and African-American men have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.

“It is especially important for men to learn about their risk and then make an informed decision,” Dr. Thompson says. “Early detection of prostate cancer can save lives but only if that conversation between the physician and patient occurs.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force did recommend against PSA testing in men 70 and older.

“I would respectfully disagree with the task force telling a 69-year-old man in average health that he may have a PSA test but a 70-year-old marathon runner whose father lived to 98 that he cannot be screened with PSA,” Dr. Thompson says. “This recommendation oversimplifies complex data and the decision should be left to the physician and patient during their conversation.”

For more information about Cancer Care services at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center, please visit