How do doctors feel about the new PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force? Results of a recent survey indicate that most primary care doctors question the revised prostate cancer screening recommendations, and their responses to a survey indicate they will continue to offer PSA testing to their patients.
Although it is generally recognized that the PSA test is not the perfect prostate cancer screening method, thus far it is the most effective tool doctors have available. Yet when the USPSTF announced in November 2011 in draft recommendations that a routine PSA test should not be given to men of any age because it believed the risks outweighed the benefits, a group of investigators at Johns Hopkins decided to ask primary care physicians what they thought of this announcement.
The investigators surveyed 125 primary care doctors after the November 2011 announcement but before the final recommendations of the USPSTF were made in May 2012. The doctors revealed that although they agreed with the previous recommendations to stop routine PSA testing in men older than 75 and men who did not have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer, they were not in agreement with the new recommendations.
Generally, 74.4% of the doctors said their patients expected them to keep offering PSA tests every year, and 66% said it would take them longer to tell their patients why they would not recommend screening than to just offer the PSA test. More than half of the surveyed doctors expressed concern about malpractice if they did not offer the PSA test.
The results of this survey indicate that most doctors are not ready to embrace the new USPSTF recommendations concerning routine PSA testing. Men are urged to educate themselves about the risks and benefits of routine PSA testing, to consult their healthcare provider, and to make their own informed decisions about PSA testing.