News, Announcements and Expert Commentary from Inova

Prostate Cancer: To screen or not to screen?

Recommendations vary based on risk factors

Alexandria, VA – (September 17, 2012) – September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month which brings with it questions about prostate cancer screenings, specifically the use of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing.

There are studies that suggest that PSA testing leads to unnecessary treatments. Many urologists know that PSA tests are limited, but agree with The American Urology Association and The American Cancer Society revised screening guidelines recommending that doctors more heavily involve their patients in the decision about whether to be screened for prostate cancer.

“The types of tests used matter little compared to the mutual understanding between a man and his doctor about the risk factors for prostate cancer and  available treatment options,” says Dr. Yousef Salem, Urologist at Inova Alexandria Hospital. “It’s important to understand a man’s baseline PSA levels and then track the changes in those levels over time. Therefore, PSA testing needs to be individualized”.

The combination of the PSA test (a blood test) with a digital rectal examination is the best way to detect prostate cancer and early detection is considered the best prevention. The increased incidence of earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer has led to men living longer with the disease. “Data from screening studies showed PSA screening reduces prostate cancer mortality by 21%,” notes Salem.

The American Urology Association recommends baseline PSA screenings for me at ages 40 and 45, followed by annual screenings at age 50 for men who are not considered high risk for prostate cancer. Men with a family history of prostate cancer should be screened every year beginning at age 40. Annual screenings for men ages 40 and above are also recommended for African American men, who are at higher risk.

For more information on prostate cancer, please visit There will be a free prostate screening held on November 4 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. To sign up, call 1-855-My-Inova (694-6682).

To schedule an interview with Dr. Yousef Salem call Allison Kenty at 703-504-3840.

About Inova
Inova is a not-for-profit health care system located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, serving over two million people with over 1,700 licensed beds based in Northern Virginia.  Inova consists of five hospitals including the area’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care unit.  Inova encompasses many health services including the nationally and internationally recognized Inova Heart and Vascular Institute (IHVI), Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) on genomics, Inova Neuroscience Institute and Inova Children’s Hospital.  Inova’s mission is to improve the health of the diverse community it serves through excellence in patient care, education and research.  More information and statistics about Inova is at
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