BY CHRISTY LEWIS
The United States Preventive Services Task Force sparked controversy after giving women in their 40s some words of wisdom: Don’t get an annual mammogram.
And that panel is at the center of controversy again. This time, with a suggestion for men.
Fox has more.
“A key government health panel is now advising that healthy men should no longer receive those PSA blood tests that test for prostate cancer because the test may be more harm than good.”
According to the American Cancer Society--studies have shown no evidence that PSA, or protein-specific-antigen tests, are lifesavers. If anything, they are the exact opposite. The New York Times explains.
“From 1986 through 2005, one million men received surgery, radiation therapy or both who would not have been treated without a P.S.A. test... Among them, at least 5,000 died soon after surgery and 10,000 to 70,000 suffered serious complications. … As a result of these complications, the man who developed the test … has called its widespread use a ‘public health disaster.’”
Health officials say 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer, a normally slow-growing illness. And aside from death, a survivor could end up impotent and incontinent from testing and treatment. A CNN reporter says it’s those factors that could have the majority of men staying away from the test.
“Prostate cancers are usually really slow growing and they’re not really going to hurt you. So you might find this slow-growing prostate cancer when you go to look for it and then you can make a man impotent and incontinent with the treatment when the cancer was not going to hurt him.”
On the other end of the controversy is the group of people who argue in the end, the PSA tests are worth it.
DR. SAMADI: “PSA has shown that over the last 10-15 years that there is a decrease in deaths and mortality.”
DR. LOWE: “Because PSA isn’t 100% accurate, doesn’t mean we should not do it. I mean it has still made a major impact on people we are testing for cancer that we are detecting at a much earlier stage..one that can be treated successfully.”
Adding to the controversy is the cash. A blogger for the New America Foundation says the task force is more concerned with saving the government money.
And the real problem is that medical personnel are pushing the test too much.
“The marketing departments of many hospitals openly admit that they offer free PSA testing as ... a means of bringing in new (paying) customers. …According to … [the] chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, some physicians have openly complained that any criticism of PSA testing could hurt their wallets by cutting down on the number of patients diagnosed.”
Adding to that, the recommendations have an effect on the government. A Washington Post Health Editor featured on PBS News Hour says...
“Insurance companies look to this panel to decide what they should pay for. In fact, under the health care--the federal health reform legislation that passed this panel has actually become more influential because some of the basic benefits that the federal government will require under the health reform legislation will be influenced by this panels recommendations.”
The panel sought to make it clear that this is just a proposal draft. The recommendations are open for public comment and the final report will be released next week.
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Such people are easy to attack: their very decency prevents them from overprotecting themselves. Yet the survival of most of the individuals in a society depends upon them." From The Way to Happiness
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