Following the growing debate about the use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer and whether the age limit of 50 should be lowered, Public Health England (PHE) has issued new guidelines to general practitioners (GPs).
Prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men, kills 11,000 in the UK every year and the accuracy of the universally used PSA test has been under scrutiny for some years.
PHE had a team of experts re-examine all recent evidence and has now issued new guidance to GPs calling on family doctors to offer tests to men with a higher risk of developing the disease.
PHE guidelines say: “GPs should use their clinical judgement to manage symptomatic men and those aged under 50 who are considered to have higher risk for prostate cancer.”
The aim is to reduce the number of men who are diagnosed too late.
Current NHS guidelines say that only men over 50 can have the PSA test but not every man is tested before they have any symptoms. Considering the family medical history and the overall risk of an individual, for example, men who are obese and those with Afro-Caribbean family backgrounds are at a higher risk, should lead to a patient who is at higher risk being offered a test before he reaches the age of 50.