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PSA test for prostate cancer: 'You'll never know unless you're looking for it'

Eight years ago, a government task force recommended against it, saying it led to unnecessary treatment. Now, in new draft recommendations, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force says men 55 to 69 years old should talk to their doctors to decide if PSA screening is right for them.

A controversial test to screen for prostate cancer is getting a boost.

After recommending against the PSA test for years, a government panel is taking another look.

In this edition of Sinclair Cares, Molly Shen explains why more men might now get the PSA screening.

SEATTLE - A year ago, Michael Pastula felt perfectly healthy.

His only indication something might be wrong?

A blood test that showed elevated levels of a protein indicating possible prostate cancer.

"You'll never know unless you're looking for it," he said, "and you need to look for it. You need to look for it."

The prostate-specific antigen - PSA - test is a simple blood draw with quick results.

Eight years ago, a government task force recommended against it, saying it led to unnecessary treatment.

Now, in new draft recommendations, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force says men 55 to 69 years old should talk to their doctors to decide if PSA screening is right for them.

They still warn screening could lead to potential misdiagnosis and treatment which could cause impotence and urinary incontinence.

But the panel also says new evidence supports the benefits of screening, including reducing the chance of dying from prostate cancer and catching it before cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

Dr. Stephen Eulau is happy to see the more open minded approach.

"It's really, really important that the patient and the doctor have a conversation in a collaborative way so they can form a partnership in making this decision," the radiation oncologist said. "It's very important to recognize that we're not just looking at a blood test. We're looking at a patient."

Pastula's cancer was aggressive, spreading to his lymph nodes and bladder.

"If you don't have something like a PSA test to give you at least an indication that something's going on, then people are going to die from this," he said.

Pastula had surgery and is now undergoing radiation.

"I think you have an excellent opportunity to cure this cancer," Eulau said.

"I'd be happy about that," Pastula said.

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