Because of these complex issues, the American Cancer Society recommends that doctors more heavily involve patients in the decision of whether to get screened for prostate cancer. To that end, ACS's revised guidelines recommend that men use decision-making tools to help them make an informed choice about testing. The guidelines also identify the type of information that should be given to men to help them make this decision.
ACS recommends that men with no symptoms of prostate cancer who are in relatively good health and can expect to live at least 10 more years have the opportunity to make an informed decision with their doctor about screening after learning about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits associated with prostate cancer screening. These talks should start at age 50. Men with no symptoms who are not expected to live more than 10 years (because of age or poor health) should not be offered prostate cancer screening. For them, the risks likely outweigh the benefits, researchers have concluded.
As in earlier guidelines, ACS recommends men at high risk—African-American men and men who have a father, brother, or son diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65—begin those conversations earlier, at age 45. Men at higher risk—those with multiple family members affected by the disease before age 65—should start even earlier, at age 40.
For men who are unable to make a decision about screening after these conversations, ACS recommends the doctor make the call based on his or her knowledge of the patient's health preferences and values.
For men who choose to be screened after discussing the pros and cons with their doctor, the new guidelines make the digital rectal exam (DRE) optional and offer the option of extending the time between screening for men with low PSA levels.
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