It’s no longer officially scientific to recommend a PSA test “just to see”. A U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is preparing to recommend that the PSA test get a “D” rating, meaning the results are unreliable and likely to lead to unnecessary biopsies, in which the risks outweigh any measurable benefit.

The PSA test results in “small or no reduction” in prostate cancer deaths. So what’s the point?

Of course those who have a personal point of view are not much interested in the scientific reality. A spokesman for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Dan Zenka, was reported by CNN as describing the proposed recommendation as “a tremendous mistake. You’re talking to someone whose life was saved by [the PSA test].”

But Dr. Kenneth Lin, senior author of the new paper, said he believes PSA testing does more harm than good. “Maybe you should get tested if you have this horrible family history where everyone gets prostate cancer before the age of 50. But for most men, testing is harmful,” he said.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men, other than skin cancer. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death in men, behind only lung cancer.

See the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force website:

http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/