This Tuesday, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society started a very controversial debate. The panel advises against routine PSA prostate cancer tests, although patients argue against.
Over the past few years, prostate cancer has come to be the second leading cause of death in U.S. men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about 300,000 men die each year because of prostate cancer. Given the context, it goes without saying that the American Cancer Society just fueled a very controversial debate.
Earlier this week, a panel of experts reached an unusual conclusion. According to them, routine PSA prostate cancer tests aren’t beneficial, mainly because the treatments based on them tend to cause more harm than good. Apparently the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force, the panel in debate, studied about 250,000 men that took the PSA test. Their conclusion was that the test did not save lives, but was actually doing the opposite.
Dr. Otis Brawley appeared on “CBS This Morning” to talk about the panel’s recommendation to stop routine PSA prostate cancer tests. From his point of view the tests and treatments are actually “killing more men than lives saved”. The doctor’s statements are not only urgent but also frightening.
“We need to not dupe men into thinking that there’s always benefit with this and everyone’s going to get help. Some people are going to get killed because they get the test”, added Brawley after talking about prostate cancer test awareness. Apparently the prostate cancer awareness campaign has gone a bit too far.
“I’m pro-awareness, but I think we need to be smart about it. I think we need to actually tell men there are risks to this test” explained Brawley. “There are scientifically known risks. The risks are better proven than the benefits right now” concludes the doctor.
The panel against the routine PSA prostate cancer test is concerned with the fact that men are subjected to needle biopsies without any need. Plus, since doctors can’t exactly tell which tumor is aggressive and which isn’t, men suffering from prostate cancer in different stages are treated with the same harmful medications.
The trouble is that there’s nothing to replace the PSA test. While patients continue to say there’s nothing wrong with the PSA test, panel members hope physicians will stop recommending it during check ups.