Fewer men being screened for prostate cancer, fewer early stage cancers diagnosed

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OLATHE, Kan. --  Fewer men are getting the PSA screening for prostate cancer and fewer early stage cancers are being diagnosed.  Those are the findings of new research.  Some doctors say the result will be more cases of advanced cancer and more deaths.

Starting in his 50s, Vern Scherer had the PSA blood test. In his late 60s, a spike in his PSA level led to the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

"Because of that, I caught it early and I'm very grateful for that," Scherer said.

But in 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against the screening, giving it a "D" grade. The task force said the test saves few lives, has a high number of false positive results and leads to unnecessary treatment. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds screening has declined since then in men under 75. That concerns some specialists.

"Those are the guys that will benefit the most from early diagnosis and those are the guys that are gonna suffer the worst without early diagnosis," said Dr. Bradley Connett, a urologist at Olathe Medical Center.

Dr. Connett says he's already seeing more prostate cancer diagnosed in an advanced stage than he did five years ago.

"And I think more and more men are gonna start dying of prostate cancer again," he said.

Dr. Connett says there's a great need for a better screening, but it's what we have for now.

"How else are you going to know whether you have prostate cancer?" Scherer asked.

Even though the task force recommends against screening, the American Cancer Society says to talk with your doctor about it at age 50 if you're average risk or 45 if you're high risk.

"And then make an individualized decision based on your particular situation," Dr. Connett said.

The new study found screening hasn't declined in men over 75. That's even though most groups, not just the task force, advise against it saying the harms outweigh the benefits.