It was less than a year ago that the US Preventive Task Force’s draft recommendation against the use of routine PSA testing for detection of prostate cancer catapulted medical practitioners and men all over into confusion. Well, the recommendations are official now; the task force has finalized them based on the fact that harms of the PSA blood test outweigh potential benefits. (Read the draft recommendations here). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer recommends that healthy men have routine PSA screenings. This does not apply to men suspected of having prostate cancer.
The recommendations from the USPTF provide a detailed report and breakdown of associated risks and benefits of the prostate specific antigen test, commonly known as the PSA test (Read more about the recommendation on the USPTF official page). The task force puts forth numbers in support of their recommendations.
They found that:
- One man in every 1000 who takes the PSA test may avoid death due to early screening.
- One man in every 3000 tested would die prematurely due to complications arising of prostate cancer treatment.
- 43 men/1000 tested will be seriously harmed.
- 30 to 40 men will develop incontinence or erectile dysfunction as result of treatment.
- Two more men will have serious cardiovascular events like heart attack due to treatment.
- One man will develop a life-threatening blood clot in his legs or lungs.
The task force weighed and analyzed several studies and data from largest American and European PSA screening trials that have been published to determine the benefits and cons of screening for prostate cancer using the PSA test and finalizing the draft recommendations issued in the fall.
Not any different, the official announcement has once again rekindled the controversy that had arisen post the announcement of the draft. The medical fraternity of urologists and clinicians are divided over the task force’s mandate. The American Urological Association is in the opposition and said that the findings of the task force do not reflect the benefits of PSA testing.
Read what Dr. Richard J. Ablin, the scientist who discovered the prostate specific antigen, has to say about the USPTF’s recommendations in an exclusive interview with CureTalk.
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