I was sure that I didn’t want to have a PSA test

Photo of a man looking into the distance
PantherMedia / Cathy Yeulet

Jack, 58 years old

“If statutory health insurers don’t cover the costs of certain medical treatments or tests, I always take that as a sign that they aren’t necessary and probably aren’t considered to be good enough.”

I first heard about prostate cancer through my job. Then, once when I was at my doctor’s, he pointed out that I could go to a urologist and have my prostate checked.

So I did that. The urologist said that he could do a PSA test, but that I would have to pay for it myself because it’s an individual health care service (ed. note: individuelle Gesundheitsleistung or IGeL) I’m generally not a fan of these offers. I told him that too.

I got information about PSA tests

I then talked to two other doctors about the PSA test. They asked me whether I had already had any problems with my prostate or noticed any symptoms. I hadn’t, and both of them said there’s no need for me to have a PSA test. The prostate gland can be checked in other ways too, and you don’t have to pay for them yourself. So I was sure that I didn’t want to have a PSA test.

The urologist had also recommended several other IGeL services. As I already said, I’m not a fan of them. I never went back to that doctor, and have also advised other people not to go to him.

A while ago I read an article in the newspaper which said that the treatments and tests that are offered as IGeL services often aren’t necessary. A friend of mine is a doctor, and I asked him what he thought about it – and he said the same. So I’m even more skeptical now.

The doctor who recommended that I have a PSA test back then didn’t even tell me that he could have done other examinations to check my prostate. Digital rectal examinations (ed. note: feeling the prostate with a finger) and ultrasound examinations are paid for by statutory health insurers. I asked a friend of mine who’s a doctor to check my prostate using those examinations, and he didn’t find anything unusual. If he had, I still could have done a PSA test then.

The examinations weren’t unpleasant

I’m not scared of the outcome of tests. I take things as they come – there’s no point in worrying. The rectal and ultrasound examinations weren’t unpleasant either, and didn’t take long. The doctor was a friend of mine, so that probably helped.

I’m still happy with my decision not to have PSA tests. If statutory health insurers don’t cover the costs of certain medical treatments or tests, I always take that as a sign that they aren’t necessary and probably aren’t considered to be good enough. I get the impression that a lot of the tests are done for no good reason. The prices of IGeL services vary from one doctor’s practice to another. I often get the feeling that doctors are more interested in the money they can make out of these services rather than in my health. That puts me off.

In my opinion, people who want to do a PSA test should talk to several doctors first, to find out how much it would cost and whether it’s really necessary.

Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on March 12, 2020
Next planned update: 2023

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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