The controversial PSA blood test can save some men’s lives from prostate cancer, an influential federal panel said in new screening guidelines. Every man between the ages of 55 and 69 is advised to talk to their doctors about taking the prostate-specific antigen blood test, according to recommendations released Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The draft of the guidelines signals a major shift in prostate screening advice for men, which in 2012 discouraged testing for healthy men of any age. The task force recommends that doctors have a conversation with their male patients who don’t have signs or symptoms of the disease about the benefits and drawbacks of taking the prostate-specific antigen blood test. Because prostate cancer is often a slow-growing disease, the panel still recommends against the test for men 70 and older.
“The balance of benefits and harms is still close and so that’s why we’re recommending that every man between the ages of 55-69 talk to his doctor…and then make his own decision after these discussions,” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the USPSTF and professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, told NBC News. “It’s really a personal choice.”