Prostate Cancer Screenings: an Imperfect Science
The Associated Press reports that two widely used tests for prostate cancer failed to save lives in a new study; 1,002 men underwent a blood test that measures prostate specific antigen, or PSA, and a digital rectal exam, the rubber-glove test in which a doctor feels for abnormalities in the prostate through the rectal wall. Study co-author Dr. John Concato, a clinical epidemiologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System comments:
For now, doctors should tell men that screening tests for prostate cancer are not perfect, and men should decide for themselves whether to get screened.
Dr. Howard Parnes of the National Cancer Institute adds:
We should tell patients about the uncertainty. All too often we behave as if we know screening is a good thing.
A 1999 study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine yielded similar results is mentioned:
In the study, published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers compared two groups of men treated at 10 Veterans Affairs medical centers.Thankfully, diet gets attention as a method to combat prostate cancer.
One group consisted of 501 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer and later died of that disease or other causes. Researchers chose 501 men who matched the first group for age and other factors, but who remained alive.
The researchers found that the men who were alive were no more likely to have been screened than the men who died of prostate cancer. The study was based on data from 1991 through 1999, the early years of PSA screening.
The findings support an earlier review by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That agency said in 2002 that it found "insufficient evidence" for a recommendation that men be screened.
Research did show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
In an August 2005 DiseaseProof post Dr. Fuhrman addresses prostate cancer screening:
Almost all men who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) or something like it will develop prostate cancer. There is no point in screening for it because if you are over 60 you most likely already have some prostate cancer cells in your prostate. If you choose screening, screen for the rise in PSA (PSA velocity) and ignore the total PSA number.
The good news is that even if you already have prostate cancer, it can be induced to grow faster or grow slower based on your diet-style. If you have a slow-growing, less-aggressive cancer, dietary excellence alone can offer tremendous assurance that your cancer never will become aggressive. I have observed numerous patients who have prostate cancer significantly drop and maintain lowered PSA readings through nutritional interventions.