MASSDEVICE ON CALL — A nationwide urologists lobbying group largely discredited guidance from a U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommending that physicians set aside a commonly used prostate cancer screening tool.
Known as the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA, the tool may pose more risks than benefits, according to the panel.
"Many people have a blind faith in early detection of cancer and subsequent aggressive medical intervention whenever cancer is found," American Cancer Society chief medical officer Dr. Otis Brawley wrote in an accompanying commentary on the panel’s decision. "There is little appreciation of the harms that screening and medical interventions can cause."
The panel was generally concerned about the dangers of aggressive prostate cancer treatment in patients who are asymptomatic and whose cancer may have remained neutral without intervention.
The Large Urology Group Practice Assn. expressed "outrage" at the USPSTF’s recommendation, warning that "failing to detect cancer early will create a public health catastrophe in 5-10 years," according to a press release.
"USPSTF clearly ‘cherry-picked’ data to support what can only be viewed as a pre-conceived bias against screening," LUGPA president Dr. Deepak Kapoor said in a prepared statement. "The task force did not include any physician who treats prostate cancer, and ignored credible studies and epidemiological data demonstrating a significant survival advantage to early detection…we are not detecting more cancer; we are detecting cancer earlier and saving lives."
Early results presented at the European Assn. of Urology this month from a long-term study of prostate cancer patients support the USPSTF’s decision, suggesting that surgical prostatectomy barely increased the likelihood for survival in patients with low-risk tumors.
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