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New Prostate Cancer Guidelines Cause Controversy

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Prostate Cancer kills more men than any other cancer except lung cancer. Here in Utah, it's the leading cancer killer of men.

But some new government guidelines on prostate cancer check-ups are causing some controversy.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says that routine screening for prostate cancer provide only limited benefits and may not be worth doing.

Every year close to 190-thousand men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Around 30 thousand will die from it.

The new government report says that routine preventive screening for the disease does not necessarily increase a man's chance of surviving.

But Doctor Ray Fay, a urologist at California Pacific Medical Center, says the panel is overstating it's findings.

"It says routine prostate cancer screening may not improve health outcomes," he says. "The flip side of that is that it may improve your health outcomes if you have early diagnosis of your cancer and you have options left open to you."

The most common methods of screening for prostate cancer are with a PSA blood test, or digital rectal exam. Both are effective, but the panel says that cancers found with these methods are usually so small and slow-growing that they won't cause any harm.

However, groups like the American Cancer Society and American Urologic Association all recommend routine preventive screening, saying the sooner you spot a problem the better your chances of treating it successfully.

Dr. Fay says, "Early diagnosis leaves options. Late diagnosis leaves no options."

One thing everyone agrees on is the importance of getting men to pay more attention to their health. Too often men only go to the doctor when they have a real problem.

"As long as there is discussion, there is interest. And as long as there is interest, men will allow themselves to be examined sooner rather than later for health care issues," Dr. Fay says.

Men with a family history of prostate cancer should start screening in their 40's.

Other than that every man should be educated about the potential benefits and risks of screening for prostate cancer so they can make their own informed decision.

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