April 27, 2009

Medical group urges earlier prostate exams

The American Urological Association said at a Chicago convention that men should start undergoing prostate exams at the age of 40 rather than 50.

The medical group said in a statement Monday a younger age for initial prostate exams in men nationwide could result in earlier diagnoses of cancer in some patients and more efficient testing overall, the Chicago Sun-Times said.

Such testing may not only allow for earlier detection of more curable cancers, but may also allow for more efficient, less frequent testing, the association said.

The urological group has been recommending prostate exams for men to help detect the prostate-specific antigen since high levels of the antigen are thought to be indicative of prostate cancer.

Since 2000, the group has limited its recommendation for exams to men above the age of 50 and men under 50 with higher-than-average prostate cancer risks.

Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer, questioned the association's new recommendation.

The real problem with this recommendation is we have absolutely no data to show that screening in this younger age group saves lives, he told the Sun-Times.