Prostate Cancer Testing For Over-40s

Australian men should begin routine testing for prostate cancer from age 40, experts say, to boost rates of early detection and help to reduce deaths.

The Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand (USANZ) has reduced the age at which it recommends men have their first Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, by ten years.

USANZ president Dr David Malouf says the move followed a review of latest research into the cancer, which is now diagnosed in ten men under the age of 50 every week in Australia and New Zealand.

"If we continue to wait until men are 50 before being tested, we will miss some with prostate cancer who could have been identified much earlier, monitored by their GPs and urologists and received timely appropriate advice and treatment," Dr Malouf says.

"These men have a better prognosis if they are picked up earlier."

The blood test for prostate cancer checks the level of a protein which is otherwise part of a man's ejaculatory fluid.

Elevated levels of this protein in a man's blood indicates the prostate, which produces it, was not working properly with cancer a potential cause.

Men with a PSA level higher than 0.6 at age 40 were considered to be at high risk of developing the cancer, or above 0.7 in men over 50.

"There is now strong evidence that having a baseline PSA test at age 40 is a smart move which can help determine whether a man is in a low risk of high risk category," Dr Malouf says.

"... enabling appropriate follow-up to occur."

USANZ announced its revised PSA test recommendation for Australian men at an event in Sydney on Wednesday.

Dr Malouf says there was firm data that PSA testing reduced the risk of men being diagnosed with the cancer in its advanced stage, and that treatment at an early stage reduced the risk of death.

A family history of the cancer can also indicate a man faces a higher risk.

Sydney's Ross Jeffery was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago as a result of his brother also chancing upon the cancer.

"My brother was having treatment for a knee injury and his GP at the time offered him a PSA test which picked up the cancer," Mr Jeffery says.

Ross had surgery to remove his prostate cancer in early 2008, when he was aged 46.

"I'm living proof that there is a real risk that men can get this disease in their 40s ... a PSA test saved my life," he says.
(AAP Image/Comstock)

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