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Prostate cancer statistics and early detection concerns

Cancer is a serious concern of many Oregon residents and their health care providers. Preventive measures that may be discussed during routine care include diet modifications, exercise and screening. However, medical recommendations related to cancer screening have changed in recent years. One example is PSA testing for prostate cancer. A task force noted in 2012 that this test was resulting in harmful treatments and negative outcomes for many men who showed little risk for the disease. In many cases, slow-growing cancers were treated aggressively, resulting in side effects because of unnecessary surgery and radiation therapy.

The task force still emphasized the importance of preventive screening for those in high-risk categories, including those with a family history of cancer issues. However, the relaxed recommendations for other groups is a concern to those who have evaluated statistics for screening and early prostate cancer detection in the years following the task force’s report. A lack of screening could lead to the failure to diagnose aggressive cancer. Since more relaxed testing protocol was recommend, the number of men being tested in the over 50 age group has dropped by 18 percent. The group of men from 60 to 64 years old saw a similar drop in screening numbers. Meanwhile, the frequency of early prostate cancer detection also decreased.

Those who express concern over the decrease in early detection note that this could be a good or bad issue. If patients decide to forego screening because of the medical evidence, the decline in testing numbers could reflect good communication and decision-making by health care providers and patients working together. However, failure to offer the option or discuss the issue could affect a potential prostate cancer patient by removing the consideration of screening.

An individual who is concerned about cancer risks might ask a provider to schedule a screening. If a provider advises against such screening, there might be a case for medical malpractice if that patient later deals with a serious cancer that might have been caught with the testing in question.