Understand the New Prostate Cancer Guidelines Before Your Next Dr. Visit

BY Hari Sreenivasan  March 3, 2010 at 3:19 PM EDT

“Talk to your doctor.” It’s a phrase ingrained in our brains at the end of every pharmaceutical advertisement on television. But on Wednesday, the American Cancer Society said men considering getting tested for prostate cancer should talk to their doctors because perhaps they don’t need to be.

A study last August in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute raised questions on the value of regular and early testing for all men.

To be clear, the new guidelines hold that if a man in a high-risk group — such as a black man whose father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer — should think about testing by age 45. Men with multiple family members diagnosed before age 65 ought start that conversation with their doctors before age 40.

There are online tools, videos and decision aids to help inform and walk people through decisions on getting tested, but as the guidelines say: these are no substitute for a conversation with your doctor.

For more on what the study means, we spoke to Dr. John Davis, from the Department of Urology at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center.

Davis said the strongly worded guidelines mean that men should do some homework about their testing options and they should have at least a 10- to 15-minute discussion with their doctor about whether to be tested.

Hear the full discussion: