LETTER: PSA tests aren’t recommended by all experts

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against PSA screening for prostate cancer, says Saanich family doctor

Re: Free Men’s Health Day ‘saves lives’ (News, Sept. 12)

This article promotes PSA blood testing. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against PSA screening for prostate cancer.

Elevated PSA leads to anxiety and often a prostate biopsy, during which a large needle is pushed through the wall of the lower intestine to obtain samples of tissue.

The procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, leading to a host of bad outcomes including chills, fever and a visit to the hospital.

The biopsy will show normal tissue, cancer or an indeterminate result. A normal biopsy does not guarantee the absence of cancer because the needle may have missed the abnormal cells.

The cancer may be treatable, untreatable or it may be so early that treatment is not needed. An indeterminate result mandates another biopsy.

The USPSTF 2012 recommendation states, “Many men are harmed as a result of PSA screening and few, if any, benefit.”

Thank you for promoting men’s health. A man’s doctor should check blood pressure and glucose. Measuring cholesterol in everyone over 40 is controversial.  Not mentioned in the article is the stool for occult blood test, good for detecting treatable colon cancer in people between age 50 and 74.

Dr. Robert Shepherd

Family practitioner, Saanich