Prostate cancer tests are now OK with US panel, with caveats

Apr 12, 2017, 03:25
Prostate cancer tests are now OK with US panel, with caveats

Schaeffer, who treated the actor Ben Stiller for aggressive prostate cancer, led a controversial 2016 study that found cases of metastatic prostate cancer - the type that has started to spread in the body - almost doubled in men aged 55 to 69 since 2004.

Some key things to know about the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's draft recommendations: Q. What's the new advice?

A common blood test checks for elevated levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in a man's blood, as an indicator that he may have prostate cancer.

Though the draft recommendation applies to African-American men, who are at increased risk for developing and dying from prostate cancer, task force chair Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, said this high-risk group has been woefully understudied.

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The new USPSTF guideline gives PSA testing a grade of C, which essentially means that there are risks and benefits and a doctor should have a discussion with a patient to help reach a decision regarding whether or not the PSA should be checked. The PCEC is dedicated to saving lives through awareness and the education of men, the women in their lives, as well as the medical community about prostate cancer prevalence, the importance of new marker utilization, and available treatment options, as well as other men's health issues. But the guideline states that there is not adequate evidence to make a specific recommendation for PSA screening for either population based on that criteria alone. But, the new guidance opens the door to screening on a case-by-case basis for the 55 to 69 age group. "However, many men will experience potential harms of screening, including false-positive results that require additional workup, overdiagnosis and overtreatment, and treatment complications such as incontinence and impotence", the task force said in its recommendation. While some men may have symptoms, such as trouble urinating or back pain, for most the disease is silent.

Men's Health Network (MHN) is an worldwide non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray with health awareness messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. To access this information, review the draft recommendation statement and submit comments, go to: www.screeningforprostatecancer.org.

The American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association are also on board with the "informed" or "shared" decision-making plan for screening.

Men whose greatest concern is reducing their chances of dying from cancer are sometimes willing to face the consequences and choose testing.

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The statement serves to guide clinicians and patients in decision making about screening for prostate cancer. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., introduced legislation to "reform" the independent panel and add specialists to the prevention experts appointed by a federal health agency.

Many men who have high PSA levels undergo a biopsy, which provides vital insight into whether a man has cancer but can't predict how aggressive it might be. If you treated everyone who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which is what used to be done, most men would not benefit.

It's not a shift to be taken lightly: The task force is known for being conservative and orthodox in interpreting scientific data and trends in medicine. Researchers are seeking a more accurate way to detect prostate cancer and agree on the need for technology to identify which early-stage tumors will grow to become deadly.

While these benefits may take 10 years or more to see, the harms from screening and treatment are immediate, she noted.

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Doctors who have long advocated aggressive PSA testing are praising the new guidelines. There was promotion of screening, not just by doctors to their patients but by clinics, patient advocacy organizations and even an adult diaper manufacturer.

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