PSA testing

Most people are unaware of the fact that prostate cancer usually develops without any noticeable symptoms. The consensus amongst our group is that it is important that all men be aware of this and that they talk to their GP about monitoring the level of PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) through regular testing, commencing at an appropriate age. That approach increases the likelihood of early detection, with the important consequence of maximising the chances of a completely effective treatment. What comprises an appropriate age is specified in guidelines that have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Those guidelines have been endorsed by the Prostate cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), the Cancer Council Australia and the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand. The guidelines can be read or downloaded from this page of the PCFA web site:
http://tinyurl.com/yc4ryzwy

In particular men might note the contents of the document referred to as
An overview of the recommendations approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council. On page 3 of the document the "take home message" concerning initial testing is this:

Men should be offered the opportunity to consider and discuss the benefits and harms of PSA testing before making the decision whether or not to be tested.  
  • The harms of PSA testing may outweigh the benefits, particularly for men aged 70 and older.
     
  • Men at average risk of prostate cancer who decide to undergo regular testing should be offered PSA testing every 2 years from age 50 to 69.
     
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer who decide to be tested should be offered PSA testing every 2 years from age 40/45 to 69, with the starting age depending on the strength of their family history.
     
  • Digital rectal examination is not recommended for asymptomatic men as a routine addition to PSA testing in the primary care setting, but remains an important part of specialist assessment.

The consensus amongst our group is that regular and early testing is particularly important amongst men for whom risk of prostate cancer is higher than for other men as a consequence of family history of cancer and their ethnicity.