published Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Ask a Doctor: Should I no longer check my PSA?

By Dr. C. Lee Jackson

Q. I heard the use of PSA is no longer recommended for prostate screening. Does this mean I should no longer check my PSA?

A. The United States Preventative Task Force advised against using the PSA to screen for prostate cancer, not against using PSA tests for staging prostate cancer, assessing risk and monitoring disease progression. This has led to a lot of confusion. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second most common cause of cancer death in men. Since early prostate cancer is silent, we must look for it. We look for it with PSA and a digital rectal exam. Your urologist can interpret changes in PSA over time in the context of other risk factors such as ethnicity and family history to estimate a man's risk for having prostate cancer. If necessary, the risk can be pursued with a biopsy. If prostate cancer is found, it most likely will be in an early stage, with a variety of management strategies available. While PSA screening for prostate cancer has not been perfect, it has been successful and should not be abandoned.

— Dr. C. Lee Jackson, Memorial, Robotics and Urological Center; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@ See this space each week for answers.

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