Spectrum Health Introduces New Prostate Screening Guidelines

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., November 27, 2017 – Spectrum Health has just adopted new guidelines for screening men for the possibility of prostate cancer.

These new guidelines are in response to an uptick in the number of prostate cancer patients who are being diagnosed in advanced stages, rather than early on in the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

“Decisions about whether to screen and when to begin screening for prostate cancer should be based on shared decision-making between patients and providers,” said Brian Lane, MD, Chief of Urology for Spectrum Health Medical Group and Betz Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at Spectrum Health Cancer Center. “The evidence is substantial that delaying these screenings carries real risks to patients.”

In 2012, the United States Preventative Services Task Force suggested limiting prostate cancer screenings, out of concern about the number of false positive tests and questionable benefit to patients. However, an increasing number of late stage prostate cancer patients over the past five years has altered that recommendation. Recent evidence suggests a greater than three percent annual increase in the number of patients with metastatic cancer after the initial USPSTF recommendation against PSA screening.

“The increased number of metastatic prostate cancer cases is very concerning, suggesting that men were not being screened. Later detection of prostate cancer can really limit the ability to contain the cancer,” said Dr. Lane.

Spectrum Health adopted the new guidelines in October 2017. These guidelines align with those of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American Cancer Society, the American Urological Association and even the United States Preventative Services Task Force.

The new prostate screening guidelines:

  • Men of average risk should be offered the option for prostate cancer screening beginning at age 50.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) with a digital rectal exam (DRE) is the recommended method for prostate cancer screening. DRE alone is not considered sufficient screening for prostate cancer.
  • Screening should not be offered or continued in men with a life expectancy of less than 10 years.
  • Frequency of subsequent PSA testing after the initial test should be based on the value (every four years if PSA is less than one, every two years for PSA between one and three, and every year if PSA is greater than three).
  • In most cases, men should continue PSA screening until the age of 70 and then stop.

According to Lane, the bottom line is that men should discuss their options for screening with their primary care provider.

“Each patient needs to make their own decision about whether to be screened,” said Dr. Lane. “Our revised guidelines encourage men to talk about prostate screening with their physician and act on the decision that is made.”



Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers, including 1,500 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan that served 996,000 members in fiscal year 2017. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 26,000 employees. The organization provided $372 million in community benefit during its 2017 fiscal year. Spectrum Health was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems—and in the top five among the largest health systems—in 2017 by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM. This is the sixth time the organization has received this recognition.

Susan Krieger
Media Relations
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