People are getting unnecessary medicals test that cost a ton of money? No, you don’t say! A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals large-scale screening for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test has resulted in mass over-diagnosis and over-treatment:
The death rate from prostate cancer has fallen in the United States, but not necessarily because of mass screening, study co-author Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Medical School's Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice contended. "There are a number of reasons why mortality might fall, but the most obvious is that we have better treatment," he said. "Even without early detection, I expect mortality would fall."
Results of a European study reported earlier this year indicated that "to save the life of one man, 50 must be over-diagnosed," he said.
Guidelines for screening for blood levels of PSA -- a protein produced by the prostate gland -- differ widely. The American Cancer Society does not recommend PSA screening. But, the society says a PSA test can be offered to men, starting at age 50, during a discussion with their physician. That discussion should also include an explanation of the potential benefits and limitations of such screening.
It all comes down to money! I asked Dr. Fuhrman about it and he said, “It’s true. Prostate cancer screening in general is flawed, but it is big business and the business of medicine trumps science because of the money to be made.” And Dr. Fuhrman insists the PSA test does not accurately detect cancer anyway.
An important thing to remember is prevention, prevention, prevention! Reports come out all the time highlighting the benefits of plant foods on prostate cancer prevention:
Image credit: Ranoush.