Louise Walter

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines do not advice prostate cancer screening for older individuals as the advantages are outweighed by futile medical treatments and fake results. However, this recommendation is being violated since Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals apparently screen senior men for prostate cancer at extremely high rates, as reported by University of California scientists.(UCSF)

This study involved nearly 622,262 men across 104 VA centers worldwide. Almost 45% of men above 85 years of age and suffering from 4 or more chronic diseases along with limited life expectancies were being exposed to the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening test. As for individual medical centers, the screening rates were in the range of 25% to 79%.

“Some VA hospitals are screening up to four fifths of their very ill, very elderly patients, and some as few as one quarter, but none are targeting screening according to the men’s life expectancy,” specified principal investigator Louise C. Walter, MD, a geriatrician at SFVAMC and a professor of medicine at UCSF.

Most professionals expect the screening rates of senior citizens with limited life expectancy to lie in the range of 0 to 20%. As per the outcomes of the study, even healthy older men underwent screenings similar to weak elderly men. According to geriatricians, some healthy older men may benefit from the screening procedure, but severely ill patients cannot attain the same advantage.

Therefore, the team recommends that decisions based on screenings for elderly men ought to be taken individually. The study is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.