Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. Men Not Following Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations
Our analysis of the latest CDC data found more than 73% of U.S. men aged 50 to 59 – who are at increased risk for prostate cancer – are not receiving prostate cancer blood tests at the recommended intervals.
- 73.8% of men aged 50-59 are not getting prostate-specific antigen (PSA) prostate cancer screenings at the recommended two year intervals.
- 83.2% of Vermont men in their 50s have not had a PSA test in the previous two years.
- At least 78% of men in their 50s who live in Oregon, New Mexico, Hawaii, Maine, Idaho, Minnesota, Oklahoma or Utah have not had a PSA test in the last two years.
- While Alabama has the highest rate of PSA test compliance in our analysis, still more than six out of ten Alabama men in their 50s are not following the recommended guidelines.
Prostate cancer is the second-deadliest form of cancer among U.S. males, with almost 35,000 men succumbing to the disease every year.1 A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer and is the leading method of screening according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The American Cancer Society recommends men who are at average risk for prostate cancer undergo a PSA test at least every two years beginning at age 50.
But our analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds nearly three out of every four men in their 50s haven’t had a PSA test in the past two years (as of 2020, the most recent data available).
While the percentage of men aged 50 to 59 in each state who aren’t following prostate cancer screening guidelines is higher in certain states than in others, the rate in every state is higher than 64% of at-risk men.
The table below shows the percentage of males ages 50 to 59 in each state who have not received a PSA test within the last two years as recommended by the American Cancer Society.
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In 18 states, at least three out of four men in their 50s have not had a PSA test in the last two years. Even in Alabama, where testing compliance is the highest, more than six out of ten men in their 50s are still not following the American Cancer Society’s recommendation.
PSA tests are recommended for men 45 to 49 who are at high risk of prostate cancer and for men 40 to 44 who are at an even greater risk. Those considered to be at a heightened risk for prostate cancer include African-American males and those with a father or brother who were diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65.
The table below shows the percentage of men ages 40 and up who have not undergone a PSA test within the previous two years.
A total of 113 U.S. metro areas were included in the study. The 50 metro areas below have at least 1.8 million residents according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Data for men ages 50 to 59 was not available at the metro area level, so the rates for men aged 40 and older are included.
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The national death rate from prostate cancer is 18.8 per 100,000 men.1
Of the 15 states where the highest rates of men in their 50s aren’t getting PSA tests at the recommended intervals, 14 have prostate cancer death rates that are higher than the national average.
The lone outlier is Hawaii, which has the fourth-highest rate of men not having regular PSA tests but the lowest death rate for prostate cancer.
Another of note: Mississippi has the highest prostate cancer death rate in the nation at 24.3 per 100,000, but they had the second-highest rate of PSA test compliance according to our analysis.
The five states with the lowest death rates for prostate cancer (Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia) all have PSA testing rates that are better than the national average.
PSA tests may not be covered as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, most states require health insurance companies to cover PSA tests for men aged 50 and over and men aged 40 and over with elevated risk of prostate cancer.
Additionally, Medicare provides full coverage of one PSA test every year for men over 50.
The data used for this report came from 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCD) Division of Population Health, the most recent data available.