"If I'd been kept in the dark by a federal task force, I might not have been here to write this."
A reader sent me an article from the Mercury News entitled "Milken: Why block a cancer test that saves lives?"
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel supported by a congressional mandate, now recommends that healthy men not receive prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, which measure a protein in the blood produced by prostate tissue. I agree that the current PSA test is inexact and, in many cases, leads to overtreatment that can have terrible side effects such as incontinence and impotence. However, research supported by the Prostate Cancer Foundation has led to the development of several new molecular markers that could soon complement or even replace the PSA test. These new tests, now in clinical trials pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, should greatly improve diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. In the meantime, the USPSTF recommendation is a disservice to the majority of men. While it would eliminate some short-term health care costs, long-term costs of treating metastatic disease would be higher. And some men will die. A recent European study showed that testing reduced deaths significantly among men ages 55 to 69....
The Prostate Cancer Foundation agrees with the American Urological Association that PSA screening provides important information for men and their doctors. In 1993, I was one of those "healthy" men the task force says should not be tested. I asked for the test. The result was a reading six times the upper limit of normal. If I'd been kept in the dark by a federal task force, I might not have been here to write this.
Labels: men's health