Doctors are ignoring clinical guidelines by offering the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test for prostate cancer to men over the age of 50-even though it is inappropriate and produces too many false-positives.
In the US, the decision to ignore clinical guidelines seems to be driven more by money than good science, fear researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital.
Men who have high incomes and access to medical insurance are those most likely to be offered a PSA test.
In all, around 17 million men aged 50 years and older had the test even though they had no family history of prostate cancer or prostate problems. Screening rates have remained consistent over the years, and clinical practice hasn't been altered by recommendations to use the test sparingly, and only for younger men and those with a high-risk profile.
Its use was questioned after it produced too many false-positive results-seeing a cancer that's not actually there-which nonetheless results in treatment that can leave the man impotent or incontinent, or both.
(Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.4117)