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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Makes Recommendations on Prostate Cancer Screening

These latest recommendations apply to all adult men without prostate cancer symptoms or a prior diagnosis of prostate cancer. They also apply to men who are at increased risk for the disease, including African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, a type of protein. Blood tests that measure PSA levels are routine for prostate cancer screening. The problem is that while high PSA levels can be a sign of prostate cancer, they can also be caused by other health conditions, like an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) or inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis). Also, some men receive false-positive results.

Elevated PSA results can lead to further blood tests, biopsies, and the start of prostate cancer treatment. And while men with prostate cancer may want to be treated right away, that path isn’t always the best one, experts say.

Treatment for prostate cancer can include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, all of which can have negative repercussions, like erectile dysfunction and incontinence.

However, some prostate cancers grow slowly, and some men never need treatment. For these men, undergoing treatment may have consequences that can be avoided.

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