Skip to content
Font Size

Prostate Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Patient Information [NCI] - Risks of Prostate Cancer Screening

Screening tests have risks.

Decisions about screening tests can be difficult. Not all screening tests are helpful and most have risks. Before having any screening test, you may want to discuss the test with your doctor. It is important to know the risks of the test and whether it has been proven to reduce the risk of dying from cancer.

Recommended Related to Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer: Personal Stories

Incontinence and impotence: An expert answers the questions of two men coping with these side effects of prostate cancer treatment. Is your answer here? Sex After Prostate Cancer: Two Men's Questions  

Read the Prostate Cancer: Personal Stories article > >

The risks of prostate screening include the following:

Finding prostate cancer may not improve health or help a man live longer.

Screening may not improve your health or help you live longer if you have cancer that has already spread to the area outside of the prostate or to other places in your body.

Some cancers never cause symptoms or become life-threatening, but if found by a screening test, the cancer may be treated. Finding these cancers is called overdiagnosis. It is not known if treatment of these cancers would help you live longer than if no treatment were given, and treatments for cancer, such as surgery and radiation therapy, may have serious side effects.

Some studies of patients with prostate cancer showed these patients had a higher risk of death from cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease or suicide. The risk was greatest the first year after diagnosis.

Follow-up tests, such as a biopsy, may be done to diagnose cancer.

If a PSA test is higher than normal, a biopsy of the prostate may be done. Complications from a biopsy of the prostate may include fever, pain, blood in the urine or semen, and urinary tract infection. Even if a biopsy shows that a patient does not have prostate cancer, he may worry more about developing prostate cancer in the future.

False-negative test results can occur.

Screening test results may appear to be normal even though prostate cancer is present. A man who receives a false-negative test result (one that shows there is no cancer when there really is) may delay seeking medical care even if he has symptoms.

False-positive test results can occur.

Screening test results may appear to be abnormal even though no cancer is present. A false-positive test result (one that shows there is cancer when there really isn't) can cause anxiety and is usually followed by more tests, (such as biopsy) which also have risks.

Your doctor can advise you about your risk for prostate cancer and your need for screening tests.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man with doctor
    Symptoms, risks, treatments
    man coughing
    Men shouldn’t ignore
     
    prostate cancer cells
    What does this diagnosis mean?
    doctor and male patient
    Is it worth it?
     
    cancer fighting foods
    SLIDESHOW
    15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
    FEATURE
     
    Prostate Enlarged
    VIDEO
    Picture Of The Prostate
    ANATOMY
     
    Prostate Cancer Quiz
    QUIZ
    screening tests for men
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Prostate Cancer Symptoms
    VIDEO
    Vitamin D
    SLIDESHOW