Prostate Cancer Screening Risks

Prostate Cancer Screening Risks

While screening for prostate cancer may entail many benefits, all cancer screening tests have potential risks. These risks are outlined below, but should be considered along with consultation with your doctor. Your doctor can answer any questions you may have about screening risks and benefits.

Prostate cancer screening risks include:

  • Prostate cancer screening risksFalse-Negative Test Results: A screening test does not show signs of cancer even though a cancer is present. No treatment is given even though it may be necessary.
  • False-Positive Test Results: A screening test shows signs of cancer when a cancer is not actually present. Additional tests and treatments are given when they are not needed.
  • Overdiagnosis: Overdiagnosis occurs when a cancer has been identified and treated even though it is asymptomatic or has not bothered the individual before, and which may not become life-threatening. In these cases, it is unknown if treatment will help a patient live longer or if treatment will cause more harm or lead to late-term side effects.
  • Elevated levels of PSA in the blood do not always indicate prostate cancer. Other causes of elevated PSA levels include certain medications, prostate infections, or an enlarged prostate.
  • Some prostate cancers may never need treatment due to the speed of their growth among other factors.
  • Complications from biopsy can occur. These complications may include pain, blood in urine or semen, fever, or a urinary tract infection.

Your doctor will help you determine if you are at high risk for developing prostate cancer. Together, you will weigh the risks and benefits of screening so that you can make an informed decision about your health.

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