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On Wednesday, the American Cancer Society updated their guidelines for prostate cancer screening, but has still not officially recommended that anyone - even men at high risk - go through the testing process without first knowing all the risks.
The new guidelines state that men who choose to be tested should be screened if their prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is 2.5 nanograms per milliliter or above. Men below that threshold can safely be screened every two years, Health Day News reports.
However, the society also recommends that doctors make certain that their patients fully understand the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening before undergoing any tests.
While screenings can detect cancer, they have also been known to produce a large number of false positives that lead to unnecessary procedures and surgeries. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that routine prostate cancer screenings resulted in more than 1 million men being diagnosed with tumors that needed no additional care, according to Reuters.
Moreover, biopsies and therapy options come with many undesired side effects, including impotence, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, CNN reports.
"These risks are not inconsequential," said Andrew Wolf of Virginia Health System, who chaired the advisory committee that developed the guidelines. "We do want to be sure that men know all of this before they make their decision of whether or not to be screened."
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