Harvard Perspectives on Prostate Disease

PSA screening for prostate cancer

Two studies come to different conclusions about the benefits, leaving patients and their doctors to decide what makes sense

When it comes to men's health, one could argue that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer is the most critical test a man can have. It is also the most controversial. That's because many experts believe prostate cancer is the exception to the rule that early detection of cancer saves lives. In fact, PSA screening may actually result in more harm than good.

Most men in the United States over age 50 get the PSA screening test, which was approved by the FDA in 1994. Many men have the test repeatedly. That's probably no surprise, given that Americans value the early diagnosis of cancer along with the prompt and often aggressive treatments that follow. And for most types of cancer, that plan of attack makes sense.

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