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Scripps Doctors Try To Clear Up Confusion About Prostate Cancer Screenings

Aired 7/19/12 on KPBS News.

Doctors at Scripps Health say recent federal recommendations against using the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer are misleading and potentially dangerous.

— Doctors at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla want to clear up what they call "public confusion" about prostate cancer screenings. The hospital will hold a free educational forum on the controversial topic tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Earlier this year, a federal task force recommended against using the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test to screen for prostate cancer. The panel said that's because many men with elevated PSA levels have risky biopsies and are found not to have the disease.

Dr. Carol Salem is a urologic cancer surgeon at Scripps Health. She admits the PSA test produces a lot of false positives. But she said there are no viable alternatives.

"It's still how we find prostate cancer today," Salem pointed out. "It's all we have for this very common cancer, that causes a significant death rate in this country. We still need to rely on it."

Salem said a series of PSA tests over time can be a reliable indicator of prostate cancer.

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