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When 81-year-old Warren Buffett announced that he had been screened for prostate cancer and was going to be treated, prostate experts groaned. For years, they have been recommending against testing for prostate cancer in men aged 75 years or older.
“PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening for … men 75 or older is inappropriate,” says Scott Eggener, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine. “Selective screening is reasonable to consider for the healthiest men over age 75, but for the large majority of men in this age group, early detection can lead to treatment of a disease that will probably never cause a problem. A substantial proportion of men over 75 with an elevated PSA will die from something else before a prostate cancer interferes with the quality or duration of their life.”
But doctors and their patients aren’t listening to this advice. Since recommendations in 2008 from the United States Preventive Services Task Force against testing for prostate cancer in men aged 75 years or older, almost half of men in that age group continue to get screening tests. And the number keeps going up, not down.