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Should middle-aged men get routine blood tests for prostate cancer? An influential health panel that once said no now says certain men may benefit as long as they understand the potential harms. (April 11) AP

PSA screening to detect the most common male cancer is among the most heated topics in men’s health. It involves a simple blood test for elevated levels of a protein that may signal cancer but also can be caused by less serious prostate problems.(Photo: AP file photo)

If you are a man age 55 to 69 with no signs of prostate cancer, you may still want to talk to your doctor about getting your PSA levels checked — but having that conversation with your physician is key.

That is the recommendation made Tuesday by a U.S. government advisory panel, five years after it issued guidance advising against routine screening of prostate-specific antigen levels, known as PSA, in the blood. At the time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said the risks outweighed the benefits.

“We looked at evidence overall, and there could be a small benefit for some men to be screened for prostate cancer,” Dr. Alex Krist told USA TODAY, explaining why the group shifted its guidance. “We aren’t recommending you routinely get screened. Patients should talk with their doctors about the pluses and minuses.”

The 2012 guidance against routine screenings for men under 70 led to criticism from some doctors who treat prostate cancer as well as patients, who said PSA screenings helped save their lives. Since then, the task force has studied new data, Krist said, which showed “slightly more men might not die” if they had screenings.

The 2012 guidance against routine screenings for men under 70 led to criticism from some doctors who treat prostate cancer as well as patients, who said PSA screenings helped save their lives. Since then, the task force has studied new data, Krist said …

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