Questions to Ask Your Doctor About PSA Screening


Guidelines from professional groups, including the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Urological Association, and the United States Preventive Services Task Force, advise asymptomatic men to discuss the pros and cons of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing with their doctors.

Following are six key questions to ask yourself and discuss with your doctor. The answers can help you decide whether screening is right for you.

  • How high is my risk?
  • Am I willing to undergo a biopsy if my test comes back positive?
  • How would I feel if the biopsy revealed that my results were false-positive, which would mean that I had a procedure I didn’t need?
  • Do I want to learn that I have prostate cancer even if it might be slow growing and perhaps never have caused harm?
  • Would I be willing to forgo immediate treatment and choose active surveillance instead?
  • How would I feel if I developed prostate cancer after choosing not to be tested?

If you decide to get screened, also discuss how often you should have the test; research suggests if your PSA level is low, it’s OK to wait two to four years to be retested. If you struggle with whether the PSA test is right for you, both the ACS and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have developed decision aids you can download.