Testing for prostate cancer has potential risks and benefits. In making a decision whether or not to be tested these risks and benefits must be assessed.
Potential benefits of prostate cancer testing and early diagnosis include:
- Diagnosing prostate cancer at an early and potentially curable stage when it is localised and potentially curable, prostate cancer that is diagnosed late and spread beyond the prostate is often incurable.
- Recent evidence suggests that prostate cancer screening has the potential to decrease the death rate from prostate cancer by up to 44%.
Potential risks of prostate cancer testing and early diagnosis include:
- Some prostate cancers don’t present a threat to life and treatment may result in side effects and a reduction in a patient’s quality of life with potential for impotence and incontinence. This is known as overtreatment.
- Not all patients with an abnormal PSA will have prostate cancer and the only way to find out is a prostate biopsy. This results in 2 out of 3 men having an unnecessary prostate biopsy with potential side effects.