There has long been a debate over the value or otherwise of screening for prostate cancer, and to date no country has a national system for offering prostate cancer screening.
For many years, the evidence has largely been that screening for prostate cancer caused more harm than good, but several recent developments have helped to change things:
- There are more effective treatments for prostate cancer today.
- There is better scanning technology available.
- There are less invasive treatments available.
- Long term evidence from trials of prostate cancer screening has shown more benefit than harm.
Overall it is our opinion that given these, men who are tested are more likely to receive beneficial treatment and less likely to have unnecessary biopsies than they were only two years ago and so it is now appropriate to offer all men aged 50 to 70 a prostate cancer screening blood test.
How to get a test:
If you have a prostate gland, are in the age range 50-70 and have not had a PSA test please contact our nursing team. They will arrange for a PSA and if appropriate, other blood tests.
You do not need a physical form - you can then go to any testing laboratory in Canterbury and ask for the blood test to be performed. The results will come to us.
If you were born female but now identify as male, you do not need a test.
Why you might prefer not to be tested:
You will be more likely to be concerned, undergo further testing that might cause problems or have treatment that may not save your life. Although on balance the evidence now supports the benefits of testing exceeding the risks, there are still risks and you need to be willing to face those risks if you wish to be tested.
If you have any questions about the risks and benefits of testing, please make an appointment, for which our usual charges will apply.
How to get your results:
As we have no way to know when or if you will decide to get your test done, we cannot ensure it is completed or chase you to get it done. We will however send you a txt message when we get the results, usually within three working days of the test being performed so please ensure your phone contact details are up to date when you call us.
Test results will also be available on our Patient Portal so you can check them there.
If you are unable to see your results and have not received a txt message or call about them, please contact our nursing team on 3443274 for advice on how to proceed.
What the results mean:
The test checks PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels in the blood. PSA can be elevated for many reasons including cycling, trauma and infections as well as cancer.
If you choose to have a test, the results are actioned as follows:
less than 1.0 - repeat in 3 years - in studies, no-one with a PSA under 1.0 developed cancer in the following 3 years.
1.0 to 3.0 repeat in 2 years - in studies, no-one with a PSA under 3.0 developed clinically significant cancer in the following 2 years.
3.0 to 4.0 OR if you have a family history of prostate cancer, repeat in 1 year - your test is NORMAL but we need to be more careful.
Greater than 4.0 - your test is not normal but you probably don't have cancer. Quite a lot of healthy men will have a high result. You need to see the doctor for a urine test and a rectal examination. The blood test will usually be repeated in 3 months. A second rectal examination is not required.
95% of men with a PSA level under 4.0 will not have prostate cancer.
Only 15% of men with PSA levels over 4.0 have prostate cancer, but we need to check to be sure.
It is important to understand that no test can definitively exclude prostate cancer.
This screening process is NOT government approved or funded.
Please understand that although we may offer the test to you, we are not funded to do so by the government, nor are we being asked to organise this on behalf of Te Whatu Ora/Ministry of Health.
We are not able to answer questions you may have about the test on the phone or by email, nor can we manage an abnormal result without seeing you and performing a rectal examination.
If you have any concerns or questions, or should like more information before or after underoging the test, please make an appointment - our usual fee will apply to any consultations regarding PSA screening tests.