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Doctors disagree with US Preventive Service Task Force on when to get PSA test

May 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Doctors are speaking out about the latest ruling from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which says men should no longer get prostate-specific antigen testing because the risks outweigh the benefits. However, many urologists strongly disagree.

Two years ago, an elevated PSA level alerted doctors that 51-year-old Daniel Gutierrez of Glendale might have prostate cancer. Six months later, his PSA kept rising.

A biopsy revealed Gutierrez had an aggressive form, but without the blood test doctors said it would have been years before he found out and it would have killed him.

In a controversial move, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending doctors stop using the PSA to screen healthy men like Gutierrez. But urologist like Dr. Kamyar Ebrahimi said societal concerns about over-testing and over-treating are fueling an attitude shift when it comes to cancer screenings. He said it's a step in the wrong direction.

"I think PSA saved his life because his prostate cancer wouldn't have been detected any other way for the next 10 years," Ebrahimi said. "We shouldn't take a dramatic change in how we do things because we cause undue anxiety for our patients."

The new recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force may convince healthy men like Gutierrez not to screen.

Ebrahimi fears insurance companies will stop paying for the screening. Elevated PSA levels could also mean prostate enlargement or infection. Ebrahimi said it's not a perfect test, but there's nothing else to replace it.

Ebrahimi recommends every man have a discussion with their doctor about their risks.

Gutierrez had surgery six months ago and is doing well. He said the PSA test saved his life.


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