PSA testing for prostate cancer

Lots of men in their 50s are asking whether they should have a PSA test. Patients are very welcome to have a PSA test.

What you have to decide is whether you want to have the test as there are some advantages but also some disadvantages to having a test. It isn’t a simple black and white issue but a very grey one.

The main thing for us is to ensure that you are fully informed of the pros and cons of having a psa test before you book it.

Cancer Research UK comments:

There is no screening programme for prostate cancer because we don’t have a reliable enough test to use. And using the PSA test for screening has significant risks.

If you’re over 50 and want to have a PSA test you can ask your doctor. There are risks to having this test that your doctor can discuss with you, this will help you make a decision about whether to have the test.

Screening for prostate cancer

PSA (prostate specific antigen) is a chemical released into the blood stream which can be raised if the prostate becomes enlarged. This is usually due to benign (not cancerous) enlargement of the prostate which commonly happens when men get older. It can also be raised with infection/inflammation and with cancer.

There was a recent study in Bristol of 400,000 men which was reported in the press recently. This backed up the current evidence that screening for cancer with psa testing doesn’t save lives. The study found that the same number of people died from prostate cancer in the two groups but more people were diagnosed with cancer in the screened group.

This backs up the reason why that there is not a screening programme available to men for psa testing on the nhs – the evidence shows that it will not reduce your chance of death and may be actually harmful.

Some men are more at risk – those with a family history of prostate cancer (especially if the relative was under 60 when diagnosed), afro-Caribbean patients and those with any symptoms of slowing up of the urinary tract.

We would advise you to read through this and if you want to have a test you can speak to the receptionist – explain you have read the leaflet and we can book the test.