Urologist Survey Shows Support for Prostate Cancer ScreeningPosted by in Urology
Urology professionals disagree with a government advisory committee that proposes to end routine screening for prostate cancer. A survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report shows that over 60 percent of top doctors believe the committee proposal is ill-advised. Doctors believe that routine screening can catch more cases of prostate cancer early enough to prevent it from becoming life-threatening.
The screening tests levels in the blood of a particular protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which, at certain levels, may indicate that prostate cancer is present. Out of 20 million men who are screened annually, approximately a quarter of a million of them are found to have prostate cancer. Routine testing has traditionally begun when men reach the age of 50.
The PSA Test is Risky
The government committee, called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, believes that the statistics do not indicate that screening men who have no significant risk factors for prostate cancer will reduce the number of prostate cancer deaths. The committee reviewed more than 8,000 studies. Complications occasionally result from the screenings, and inaccurate diagnoses are sometimes made as well. Treatments for prostate cancer also cause additional health issues, including death from post-surgical complications in 1 in 200 cases.
The PSA test was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1994, but it is far from an ideal test. Urologists concede that it can be inaccurate and is risky for some patients. A high level of PSA in the blood is not a definite indication of a tumor, and in some cases, prostate cancer may be present even though the test shows a low level of PSA in the blood. Whatever the level of PSA, there is no way to tell if a tumor is life-threatening or simply needs to be monitored.
A Stalemate Between Urologists and the Government
According to the American Cancer Society, there have been 40 percent fewer deaths from prostate cancer in the last 16 years. Many doctors believe this is due to the approval of PSA screening in 1994. The government committee, however, pointed to two large studies, the first of which included 80,000 men and the second of which included 182,000 men. In both cases, the studies seemed to indicate that PSA screening, whether in urology New Jersey or elsewhere, did not reduce the number of prostate cancer deaths by a significant percentage.
For the survey, 600 urologists and internal medicine physicians were surveyed. The physicians chosen have been named Top Doctors by U.S. News and Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. More of the urologists surveyed disagreed with the government committee than the surveyed internists, however.
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