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Prostate screenings down, but cancer is not

Arkansas men may be choosing to decline the prostate-specific antigen tests based on a recommendation in 2012 from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. According to the task force, the test was detecting too many slow-growing cancers that posed little risk to patients who then underwent unnecessary procedures such as radiation treatment and surgery.

However, some doctors have voiced concern about men being discouraged from having the test or being told they could not have it rather than coming to a joint decision after discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the test with their doctors. While prostate cancer rates are down overall, researchers caution that detection rates going down does not mean that the cancer itself is on the decline. For men 50 years of age or older, screening rates went down almost 20 percent between 2010 and 2013.

The test is still recommended for men who have a family history of prostate cancer or men who are in other high-risk groups. However, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society says that patients should not be told that they cannot get screened or that they must get screened.

Either decision could have a negative outcome. A patient could be pressured by a medical professional to have the test and follow up with a series of treatments that damage his health and are unnecessary, or a patient could be convinced by his doctor not to have the test despite a family history of the disease and fail to catch the cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. Those who believe that they have been harmed due to what could be deemed medical negligence may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to see if there is any recourse available to receive compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

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