May 17, 2012 | by City of Hope Staff
Warren Buffett’s recent revelation about his prostate cancer diagnosis re-opened the debate over age and prostate cancer screening and treatment. At 81, Buffett falls outside of the commonly used guidelines that men over 75 don’t need to be screened for prostate cancer.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force made this recommendation in 2008, noting that most men over age 75 who develop prostate cancer die from other causes. Since prostate cancer in older men tends to develop slowly, experts say, these men do not need treatment that can cause incontinence and other side effects.
Interestingly, the task force announced its prostate cancer screening recommendations a year before it unveiled its recommendation that breast cancer screening should begin at 50 instead of the current 40 years of age. There was sustained public outrage over the breast cancer screening recommendations, but little hubbub over the guidelines on prostate cancer.
We should remember that guidelines are created to help the majority of people, and individuals can fall on either side of that bell curve — developing prostate cancer earlier or later in life than the typical patient. Men are encouraged to talk with their doctor about their personal health concerns and whether screening is right for them.
Timothy Wilson, M.D., Pauline and Martin Collins Family Chair in Urology and chief of the Division of Urology & Urologic Oncology, shares his thoughts in this video about the value of prostate cancer screening.