The battle over prostate cancer screening apparently hasn’t hit the ground, as most men participating in a Theragenics (NYSE:TGX) survey were not aware that routine PSA screening is no longer recommended for healthy men between the ages of 50 and 70.
Theragenics’ survey of more than 1,500 men found that 80% were unaware that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2012 recommended against PSA screening in healthy men. Once they were informed, 73% said they disagreed with the new task force guidelines, but only 47% of survey participants recalled their primary care physician actually recommending a PSA test.
“Because many men are unaware of the Task Force guidelines, they may mistakenly assume that a PSA test is being conducted as part of the overall lab work typically ordered during a physical examination,” Dr. Mark Scholz, a medical oncologist and executive director of the non-profit Prostate Cancer Research Institute, stated in the release. That ignorance could impact men’s future health, Scholz added.
The task force and some healthcare professionals and policy organizations have argued routines prostate cancer screening in asymptomatic men may result in over-treatment of cancer that may have remained neutral without intervention
Only 51% of men surveyed recalled their doctor discussing the pros and cons of a PSA test with them so that they could make an informed decision about whether to get the test, Theragenics said.
Once made aware of the new recommendations against PSA screening, more than 54% of survey participants said they would ask their physicians about the test during their next appointment, but only 19% said they would directly ask their primary care for a PSA test, according to the company.
In May 2012 a nationwide urologists lobbying group publicly chided the USPSTF after the agency recommended that physicians set aside PSA testing over concerns that the risks outweigh the benefits.