Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Federal Panel Rejects Prostate Cancer Screening

You may be asking yourself the question as to why a government panel would reject a prostate screening test that could save a life.  This news is getting posted on many medical websites.
The panel decided that the harm of the screening test outweighs the benefit for preventing prostate cancer.
The following is an article from a Boston publication.

The US Preventive Services Task Force determined that based on evidence from two large randomized trials, the lifesaving benefits of screening were “at best very small” and were offset by overdiagnosis and overtreatment of non-lethal cancers.

.“Our most optimistic estimate is that 1 out of 1,000 men screened will avoid dying from prostate cancer” because of early detection via the PSA test, said Dr. Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair of the task force. “We’re not saying it’s zero. We’re leaving the window open for at least a small benefit.”

“It’s hard to understand where they’re coming from,” said Dr. Anthony D’Amico, chief of genitourinary radiation oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in an interview.

D’Amico argued that the task force relied too heavily on data from a flawed study and failed to consider making separate recommendations for men in high-risk groups, such as those with a family history of prostate cancer and African Americans, who have a two to three times greater risk of dying of the cancer than white men. 

The task force, which is comprised of 16 primary care physicians and public health experts with no financial interests in tests or treatments, issues screening and other preventive health recommendations that tend to be more conservative than those of medical societies -- composed mostly of specialists who treat diseases detected through screening -- or patient advocacy groups.

Former New England Patriots player Mike Haynes, a paid spokesperson for the urological association, said in an interview that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, at age 55, after getting a free screening PSA test at an NFL event for retired players, sponsored by the urological association. He said he wasn’t told about any of the risks of the tests such as false positive results, unnecessary biopsies, and overtreatment of slow-growing cancers. His elevated PSA and subsequent biopsy revealed a stage 1, slow-growing cancer, and he said, “one of my options was watchful waiting, but my immediate reaction was let’s get it out of my system.” 

He considers himself lucky, however, in that the only side effect he had from his surgery was a few months of urinary incontinence that has since resolved.

To read the complete article : http://www.boston.com/dailydose/2012/05/21/psa-screening-for-prostate-cancer-gets-thumbs-down-from-federal-panel/ip80Gu1FRujF8B7mTGfNEJ/story.html

What do you think of the the panel's decision?

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