The Law Offices of John Phebus

Screenings for prostate cancer on the decline

Some Arizona residents may be choosing to avoid a prostate screening based on new guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that say only men who are in a high-risk group or who have a family history of prostate cancer should have the screening. Doctors say that this is a good idea if it is an informed decision made between doctor and patient, but some have voiced concerns that some patients may be discouraged from having the test.

The recommendation for the screening was changed because of concerns that, too often, forms of cancer that were unlikely to develop any further or cause health problems were being treated with aggressive surgery and radiation. In some cases, these treatments were more dangerous for the patient than the presence of prostate cancer. As a cancer, it tends to be slow-growing, and people often die of other, unrelated ailments before the prostate cancer progresses.

Fewer cases of early-stage prostate cancer are being diagnosed, but researchers say this is due to fewer tests overall rather than a drop in cancer rates. According to one study, for men over the age of 50, screening dropped 18 percent from 2010 to 2013.

In some cases, individuals may have indications that they should be tested for prostate cancer such as a family history of the disease or symptoms, and a medical professional may fail to recognize the necessity for a test. This could have a significant effect on the patient's prognosis. If this is the case, the individual may want to file a lawsuit against the medical professional and the medical facility. This may be considered medical malpractice. A court might decide that the patient did not receive a reasonable standard of care, and the patient might receive compensation.

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