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Prostate Cancer Screening: Should You Take the Test?

Doctors and other medical professionals cannot seem to agree on the effectiveness of prostate-cancer screening: Does the screening test do more harm than good or does it save lives in the long run?

Just a few months ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force opined that no one should be blood-screened for prostate cancer. That panel stated that the blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) does not stop prostate cancer deaths and the PSA screening has negative side effects. In short, if early detection won’t save a patient’s life and may result in cancer misdiagnosis which will cause adverse side effects, why take the risk?

However, a new study has determined that PSA testing is necessary and that without this testing doctors would be diagnosing 30 percent more patients with advanced stage prostate cancer per year. Many of those diagnoses would be fatal.

Does Screening Save Lives?

The one thing experts do agree on is that PSA tests do facilitate early diagnosis of prostate cancer. But does the screening prevent death in those diagnosed? A large U.S. study found that PSA screening does not lower the mortality rate in advanced cases. A more recent and larger European study, however, found that regular testing does lower the risk for death from prostate cancer overall.

Does More Testing Mean More Medical Errors?

If a patient tests positive for prostate cancer, the patient will often then have to undergo many more procedures and tests, including possibly surgery, radiation, etc. All of those tests have potential adverse side effects, including impotence and incontinence. Additionally, more tests and procedures means there is more possibility for medical error.

The taskforce doesn’t recommend PSA testing because the side effects and the possibility of medical errors are not worth it when considering the small likelihood that the screening will save a patient’s life. However, it is ultimately up to patients to decide whether screening is right for them and to question whether their physician’s failure to screen amounts to medical negligence.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC: Experienced Legal Representation

If you or someone you love is the victim of any form of medical negligence including medication errors and cancer misdiagnosis, you should consult with a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC.  Contact us at 215-569-8488 or 302-888-1221, or contact us online for a free consultation.