May 28, 2020

Yes or no for a PSA test for men over age 70

We all know that aging is a recognized risk factor for prostate cancer, that it can be cured, but you still need to be screened early to put the odds in your favor. But what about older men? Should men be screened for prostate cancer and have a PSA test past 70 years of age?

The prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA test, makes it possible to detect the disease at an early stage, often in the absence of symptoms, thereby preventing many deaths related to advanced and aggressive cancers. When its level is high, this antigen indicates that there is a problem with the prostate, but it is not necessarily prostate cancer.  Blood levels can go up as a result of various prostate disorders, such as infection, benign enlargement or cancer, or sometimes for no apparent reason.

While this test is currently the best for screening for prostate cancer, it is not perfect. It does not on its own indicate whether it is necessary to treat a patient or how to treat.

It is true that age greatly increases the risk of prostate cancer. However, most prostate tumors, especially in older men, remain small, grow very slowly or not at all, do not spread, and do not cause any symptoms. Many men die with prostate cancer rather than from the disease. In fact, autopsy studies show that three-quarters of men over the age of 75 had prostate cancer - usually small and harmless - and that the vast majority had never known it and had died of something else.

Decision-making context by age

According to the Canadian Urological Association (AUC) 5, the PSA test should generally be offered to any man, aged 50 and over with a life expectancy of at least ten years. A man at risk, that is to say with a history of cancer or of African origin, would undoubtedly benefit from considering taking these tests from the age of 45. Similar recommendations from the Canadian Cancer SocietyProstate Cancer CanadaMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterAmerican Cancer SocietyProstate Cancer Foundation (PCF / USA)Prostate Cancer UK, are other examples. 

Men 70 and over

Also according to the Canadian Urological Association (AUC) 5, screening should be discontinued in men at the age of 70 with no symptoms; however, for men 70 and over, in excellent health, one could consider further testing taking into account their family history, their values and their preferences 5.

When to consult

It goes without saying that if you have symptoms, urinary or other, you must consult your doctor or go to your CLSC or a walk-in clinic to clear the air.


Take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease with our expert lectures, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you.

Do you have any questions or concerns? Above all, do not hesitate. Contact us at 1 855 899-2873 to discuss with a nurse specializing in uro-oncology. It's simple and free, like all our services.

Pages of our site that might interest you
Want to know more? Just click on one of the links below.
Recognize the signs and symptoms
Prostate-related diseases

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Source and reference
Canadian Urological Association: Recommendations for early detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer. Originally cited as follows: Can Urol Assoc J 2017; 11 (10): 298-309. http://dx.doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.4888

Written by PROCURE. © All rights reserved - 2020

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