Mayo Clinic: PSA Tests are Good Things

PSA test helpful in diagnosing low-risk prostate cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In case men aren't confused enough with all the recommendations flying around about PSA tests, another point of view adds one more bit of conflicting advice.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests for prostate cancer screening in healthy men. The panel says the test does not save lives and often leads to more tests that can cause unnecessary  pain, sexual side effects and incontinence.

A Mayo Clinic study begs to differ, finding that the PSA test is indeed valuable in distinguishing who should have a biopsy and who is likely to be diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.

"Only you and your doctor can decide what's best in cancer screening."

The PSA test measures the amount of a protein produced by the prostate that's present in the blood stream. It's commonly used to determine a man's risk of developing prostate cancer.

The study followed 600 men between ages 40 and 79 since 1990 to track their prostate health. Researchers found that men who were in their 40s who had an initial (baseline) PSA at or above the median PSA (4-20 ng/ml) were more likely to have a biopsy and be diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.

The same held for men in their 50s. Yet the vast majority of these tumors - 89 percent - received a "low risk" classification.

Study co-author and Mayo Clinic urologist, R. Jeffrey Karnes, M.D., agrees with the dailyRx insight, saying a man should consult with his doctor in deciding whether or not to use the PSA test.

He goes on to say this study shows a clear link between the PSA test and the next best steps in "the prostate cancer continuum of care."

PSA levels can be elevated for a number of reasons, including benign prostate enlargement or urinary tract inflammation. This is why additional tests, including a biopsy, are ordered to confirm a diagnosis.

Findings from this study were presented at a meeting of the North Central Section of the American Urological Association.

Study findings are considered preliminary before they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 24, 2011
Last Updated:
October 24, 2011