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Task force: PSA tests do more harm than good
May 21st, 2012
05:28 PM ET

Task force: PSA tests do more harm than good

The United States Preventive Services Task Force issued their final recommendation on the PSA prostate cancer-screening test Monday, recommending against routine PSA exams for men of any age. The task force says the PSA exam and additional treatments that may follow, like radiation and surgery, result in far more harm than benefit.

Dr. Virginia Moyer, who sits on the task force, cited that only one out of every 1,000 men who are screened would actually benefit from the exam. Instead, most will have to deal with side effects from treatment that can range from incontinence and impotence, to stroke and death.

“Your primary care physician shouldn’t routinely offer the exam," said Moyer. "But if a patient brings it up, that doctor has a responsibility to inform them of the potential harms and risk."

New story: Top American Cancer Society doctor weighs in on the announcement

However, the American Urological Association is not changing its stance on the PSA test.  “We at the AUA still recommend the PSA, with its imperfections," said Dr. Chris Amling. "It’s the wrong thing to deny a man if he wants to have this test."

Related: Value of mass prostate cancer screenings questioned

The PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigens in the blood. While the screening detects the presence of prostate cancer, it cannot make the distinction between aggressive, fast moving cancers, and the more common slow growing ones.

“There is no other screening test for prostate cancer. It’s clear that the only way to cure prostate is to detect it early," Amling emphasized.

Related story: Annual prostate cancer test doesn't save lives, study says

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer among men, and occurs most often in African-American.  But survival rates also are very high. The American Cancer Society finds that 91% of all men with prostate cancer will live for 15 years beyond diagnosis. According to the National Cancer Institute, 70% of prostate cancer deaths occur after age 75.

Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society supports the recommendation of the task force.  “People need to realize that science hasn’t given us the answer," said Brawley. "In the past, when we don’t have a scientific answer, and we’ve guessed, we’ve hurt a lot of people."

Related story: Who decides about screenings?

The task force made its draft recommendation publicly available in October 2011, and reviewed nearly 3,000 comments before issuing its final recommendation.


soundoff (436 Responses)
  1. josh rogen

    since most of the deaths happen after age 75 it's just a waste of resources...welcome to Obamacare

    May 22, 2012 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thanks4reading

      Since obamacare does not cover what tests can be given and the vast majority is not even in effect, obamacare has no influence in this decision. But the $ saved from not issuing the psa tests can perhaps be used to improve our education system so that we avoid future posts such as yours

      May 22, 2012 at 04:13 | Report abuse |
    • jack

      It has nothing to do with "Obamacare". These routine PSA tests have been going on for decades, but you probably already know that!

      May 22, 2012 at 04:27 | Report abuse |
    • jack

      It has nothing to do with "Obamacare". These routine PSA tests have been going on for decades, but you probably already know that.

      May 22, 2012 at 04:28 | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      Does everything have to be turned into a political insult opportunity? Grow up.

      May 22, 2012 at 05:03 | Report abuse |
    • Karen H

      I strongly disagree with the article stating that men should not be given the PSA! My husband's past PSA results were indicative of cancer several years ago, and the records subsequently got "lost". He had no idea that he was in danger of having prostate cancer. Four years ago, our general practicioner, took a PSA (which was high) and performed a digital exam, only to find a lump in the prostate. My husband had stage III cancer. My spouse had his prostate and some of the surrounding nerves removed shortly after the Dr. found the lump. It saved his life. If my husband's earlier PSA test results had not gotten lost several years ago, he could have possibly avoided surgery and its aftermaths. I has been a long difficult road to travel, but my husband is cancer-free and alive! I was surprized to read this article. We suggest that every man over the age 50 to get his PSA taken. This disease knows no race, and does not only strike men over the age of 70.

      May 22, 2012 at 05:33 | Report abuse |
    • RussTnuts

      You mean welcome to the USA, one of the few civilized countries in the world where health care for it's citizens isn't a right.

      May 22, 2012 at 06:17 | Report abuse |
    • A in Pa

      Long story short, these blanket tests are set up to protect Doctors from their own incompetence and the resulting malpractice suits, because they miss the obvious.

      They've been doing this for years (the AMA), how is it an Obama created problem? (stop talking out of your @$$). Just like the over zealous colonoscopy business that will find a polyp that might turn into cancer in 20 years and that might, I repeat MIGHT kill you in 20 years or mammograms that give false readings, these are problems introduced by the medical communities giving blanket prescriptions for unnecessary tests (like we're cattle) and not seeing us as individuals. Welcome to stupidity. BTW, we're all going to die of something.

      And consider this, my 46 year old sister went to the Dr. and told him she was tired and run down and losing strength, and that our mother died of Leukemia, he scheduled a stress test (for heart problems) and never asked for a blood sample to test for anemia. She called back and set up a blood test (there there, little girl, we’ll indulge you, but I - your Doctor know if you think it’s may be Leukemia you can’t be right, I’m the Doctor and I’m telling your it’s your heart) Well, the Doctor was wrong, when he got the results of the blood test he couldn’t get her to the hospital fast enough…Currently being treated at John’s Hopkins by some competent Professionals. Thank God.

      May 22, 2012 at 06:19 | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      I agree Josh. This is not the "task forces" first attempt at trying to regulate certain types of screenings saying they are not needed. Obama administration knows his "health care" plan can't be afforded so the first thing they do is try to cut things out to reduce cost regardless of how they affect the people that could be helped.

      May 22, 2012 at 06:37 | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      No, the politically-correct "progressives" want to keep the status quo, where most of the research money is spent on breast cancer and AIDS research because it helps woman and gays, instead of evil men.

      May 22, 2012 at 06:44 | Report abuse |
    • PC

      A PSA test can indicate the presence of prostate cancer, but not necessarily. It may indicate other prostate problems that are not cancer-related. A prostate biopsy may give more certain confirmation, but it's like throwing darts (the biopsy needle) at a dart board (the prostate gland)...if you hit a cancerous area, you'll get a positive result; but you might not hit THE cancerous area. If a tumor is detected by a DRE or other method, well that's a pretty good sign that cancer exists. I think the PSA test is a good initial screening but should be followed up with other tests to get better idea of what is really going on. Then, the patient can make a better decision as to the treatment, if any, he wants to undergo.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:40 | Report abuse |
    • snowdogg

      Has nothing to do with "Obamacare" – you really aren't too smart.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:40 | Report abuse |
    • Evelyn

      Why do you idiots have to make everything about President Obama? These tests were being administered long before he came to office. Or, are you under the impression that he personally does the testing?

      May 22, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • Prostrate Cancer Survivor

      Josh, do you know someone who has died of prostrate cancer, or have you/do you have it? If not, your speaking out and without a realistic understanding. As a survivor and in my 40's, I can attest that the PSA test and subsequent treatment are worth it. To watch someone die a very slow and painful death is unacceptable in our society. Especially, when it is curable. Issues of incontinence and impotence are nothing in comparison to the disease. Spend some time in a cancer center before you speak. I for one would undergo the treatment again and without hesitation. Being alive and spending time with my family and friends is a wonderful thing.

      May 22, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • hecep

      This from the sebsite of those making the recommendation for fewer PSA tests: The USPSTF is an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine and is composed of primary care providers (such as internists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, nurses, and health behavior specialists). Translation: This has nothing to do with so-called Obamacare.

      May 22, 2012 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
    • Lucky Father

      I'm a 20 year PC survivor. Mine was found during a routine checkup. The PSA test was new & my doctor just included it as part of the blood work. It was a cheap test. A 11.3 reading in a 42 year man was not a good sign. They repeated the test and measured 10.8. The follow up biopsy & ultrasound found a 4.8 Gleason tumor. The surgen who was trained in nerve-saving techniques removed the prostate. Since then I have not had any issues with incontinence or impotence. The lucky part is I was a widower with 3 small kids at the time but I have been able to live to see them all start their own families. Knowledge is always better. Ignorance is a killer. If they were here you could ask Bill Bixby or Frank Zappa.

      May 22, 2012 at 10:04 | Report abuse |
  2. iminim

    The problem with the PSA is that it is a poor test for random screenings. If it is elevated it is hard to be sure what that means in terms of presence of cancer, aggressiveness of cancer, and potential response to treament. If it is normal, it doesn't reliably rule out cancer. The truth is that it's often hard to know exactly what to do with PSA results and even what they mean. That makes it a bad screening test. Are there some populations of men it might work better for, like those in high risk categories or to monitor for recurrent cancer in men who were strongly positive before surgery &/or radiation and had low levels after? Perhaps. But the biggest take home point of all of this is that we need a better, easily accessible, and more reliable screening test that can catch real prostate cancer in the cureable stages, be reliably negative when no cancer is present, and provide useable results to direct further evaluation & treatment. The USPSTF just spoke the disappointing truth.

    May 22, 2012 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • snowdogg

      Totally agree with your posting. My doctor got VERY upset when I told him the PSA results are wildly inaccurate and I was NOT going to have a biopsy just to "check things out". The establishment doesn't want to hear that what they've "known" all these years is incorrect... and it might just reduce their income potential if more men said "no". PSA for all men all the time is a waste of time and money and the potential negative effects of biopsies, surgeries and heavy drug doses is not minor.

      May 22, 2012 at 07:12 | Report abuse |
    • William Hill

      Flawed as it may be, a good doctor will use the PSA test as he thinks necessary to try to determine what is "normal" for a particular individual and to at least have some clues over time to determine when or if the prostate condition deserves closer scrutiny. That's what my doctor said to me. I'm lucky. No problems so far. I'm 80.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:26 | Report abuse |
    • PC

      @ snowdog: There are no negative effects from having a prostate biopsy, except for the fact that it might detect that you have cancer and then you KNOW and have to live with whatever decision you make as far as treatment goes. You might loose sleep over it, but that's about all you will suffer. My PSA has been around 4.0 for several years. I had a prostate bioplsy and two of twelve samples came back positive with about 5% of each core sample showinglow-level Gleason 6 (3+3) cancer (if you understand this, become better informed). To date I've done nothing except alter my diet and excercise more, since I think my cancer is not very aggressive. I just had another PSA test today, and will get results back in two weeks. Then I might elect to have another prostate biopsy just to see if things have gotten worse since the first two years ago. What have I got to loose, except my life, hey ?

      May 22, 2012 at 08:50 | Report abuse |
  3. John

    I wish Josh Rogan wasn't completely retard.

    Just read something ONE THING on prostate cancer so that you can embrace how incredibly accurate the PSA is here, and how outmatched you are in every aspect of life. Please, please kill youself. Thanks!

    May 22, 2012 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DEEBEE

      John, please take your own advice and I promise that I will deal onyour behalf with Josh

      May 22, 2012 at 06:49 | Report abuse |
  4. jerseygirl

    A sudden but persistent spiking in my husband's psa test led to a biopsy which indicated cancer in half the tissue samples taken. He is only 51 so the 15 yr. longevity stat doesn't look so great in that case. If you find it at age 75, go ahead and ignore it if you wish. You will probably outlive it. But for a younger person every cancer specialist, urologist and internist recommended removal for someone that young.

    May 22, 2012 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mssett

      Cancer was detected in my husband at age 46 through a routine blood test with a physical. The cancer had spread outside the prostrate....I guess if you don't have cancer the test may appear useless, but if you do it can be a life saver. After surgery and radiation the PSA was still rising...he is alive due to a hormone implant...five years and we are counting.

      May 22, 2012 at 09:07 | Report abuse |
  5. Kevin 808

    I’m 55 and scheduled for surgery this Friday. I have been getting tested since 2004 and my last PSA reading was 4.2. After my biopsy my Gleason score is 7 with one side of the prostate positive on 5 out of six samples. What drove the need to get the biopsy was a brother that had his removed at 58 a few years back. The pathology afterward showed his cancer had escaped the margins of the prostate. This resulted in additional chemo and radiation treatments for him. Hopefully I caught it early enough to get it all with the prostate removal.

    I think that as this is a disease that normally affects only the older population that on paper 15 additional years may be an acceptable option. For me I would like to be around at least another 30 if not longer.

    May 22, 2012 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anil

      Had prostate removed four years ago and am perfectly happy with the decision. Doing well and PSA is zero for four years.

      May 22, 2012 at 05:40 | Report abuse |
  6. C

    Looks like another win for insurance companies. Guess that thousands more will have to die because they did not have regular screening before this gets attention. This should also apply to breast exams for women, or it will be next.

    Gee, who wrote this piece? Maybe a woman with arterial motives? Probably. This is an attack on older men and their health and safety.

    May 22, 2012 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T. R.

      I'm not sure what arteries have to do with any supposed motive of the author. Presumably you meant "ulterior" instead of "arterial."

      May 22, 2012 at 05:27 | Report abuse |
    • craig

      If insurance companies want to "win" then they'd support diagnostic screening regardless. Handling any disease earlier is always cheaper, and death...especially a slow and painful death, is always more expensive. Well baby care is always cheaper than hospital stays. Preventive medicine is always cheaper than the alternative. Medication for hypertension is always cheaper than the strokes and other results if it's untreated.

      May 22, 2012 at 06:09 | Report abuse |
    • Julnor

      The cost of thousands of unneeded tests outweight the cost of cancer treatment. That's the big lie, these "preventative" screenings actually increase the overall cost of healthcare. The only preventative treatments that actually reduce costs are childhood immunizations (heard this on NPR for you libs out there).

      May 22, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
  7. C

    Nadia, whatever happened to safety first and prevention? Tell you what, you can do what you can to make sure men die as soon as possible, and that will not help women. I suggest regular breast screening for women is a waste of money too for society. Let's just let the women die from breast cancer and the men from prostate cancer NATURALLY. Seems like a compromise for all of us Nadia.

    May 22, 2012 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • keldorama

      Actually C, that recommendation was already made by the panel 2 years ago. Last year's recommendation was no regular Pap smears for women. So this year's recommendation on prostate cancer screenings is consistent with previous ones: preventative measures as a routine course of diagnosis are a waste of resources and don't guarantee anything. Just remember, you can still request them as part of your checkups.

      May 22, 2012 at 07:51 | Report abuse |
    • Lara

      Keldorama, it is true that the panel no longer recommends annual PAPs for women, but doctors STILL require all female patients to have an annual PAP smear in order to get birth control even though PAP smears are wildly inaccurate and carry a lot of risks of which many women are not aware.

      May 22, 2012 at 07:56 | Report abuse |
    • keldorama

      @Laura – I know. I was trying to show C that it isn't a female conspiracy against men. The panel's recommenations appear to be equal opportunity in their lunacy.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:15 | Report abuse |
  8. C

    Women have no business writing these type of articles on behalf of men who are at risk or suffer from this terrible ailment.

    May 22, 2012 at 04:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DEEBEE

      Oh c'mon C. The absence or presence of the V does not correlate to intellect

      May 22, 2012 at 06:51 | Report abuse |
  9. Keith

    The U.S. government is more likely to round people up and ship them to concentration camps before most of the people die of cancer.

    May 22, 2012 at 05:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Phoenix Tears

    Rick Simpson has rediscovered the cure for cancer. Check it out!

    May 22, 2012 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Amber

    They, in their infinite wisdom, have already instigated the death panels here. And you DEM Americans want to give up your freedom so the govt can tell you what you can and cannot have. What a mob group of morons!

    May 22, 2012 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seriously?

      Sure, instead let the 1% republicans tell you what you deserve to have. Can't afford health care, too bad. Special tax breaks – too bad. Spend trillions on wars with no end – thanks. Melt down the economy due to no regulation/oversight – thanks.

      May 22, 2012 at 05:49 | Report abuse |
    • DEEBEE

      Seriously? Math is perhaps not your string suite. It should be about 1/2% Republicans. Dems are equally numerous in the 1%

      May 22, 2012 at 06:52 | Report abuse |
  12. Gary

    According to the CDC, cancer is the #2 cause of death in men, at about 24% and the most common type of cancer in men, and second to deaths only behind lung cancer.

    We note that the article is not saying to not have rectal exams, just implying that some men are treating for cancer based upon a PSA only. I have multiple friends that have/are fighting prostate cancer. In those cases PSA was used only to track if it had suddenly gone up, and then if so, given some antibiotics first to make sure it was not caused by an infection, then tested again. Only after this, were biopsies performed to determine if there was really cancer. No treatments were done before verifying there was actually cancer. I would hope no one would treat for cancer based upon a screening test alone.

    The PSA is a great screening test, like a mammography is for women. Remember there was a call to stop mammographies as well. I would not expect a women to treat for breast cancer based solely on a mammography. They would get a biopsy to confirm.

    I will continue with my PSA testing, as I would definitely encourage all men to do.

    May 22, 2012 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. jony

    This is the same "task Force" that tried to eliminate mammograms for women under 50 then back peddled when the public went into outrage. This is to prepare for government healthcare where the public gets much less preventative care. This is government meddling

    May 22, 2012 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DEEBEE

      Do not expect them to back down on this one. One protate versus two boobs - not even a contest

      May 22, 2012 at 06:56 | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Prostate cancer is not uncommon. I know two people who have been diagnosed and had prostate surgeries. They are in their early 60's. Sure, if you are diagnosed at 70 or above, you may live to be killed by other means, but if you have aggressive prostate cancer, you don't have 15 years. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had Da Vinci surgery. Stage 2c Gleason 7. My urologist told me it was "close." Future psa tests will tell the tale if my cancer was erradicated. Get the test, get a digital exam routinely and don't screw with your existance on earth.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Deenie

    They should re-tool mammogram machines for lower x-rays :p

    May 22, 2012 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DEEBEE

      re-tool for tool?
      also that re-tooling could be therapy /sarc

      May 22, 2012 at 06:54 | Report abuse |
    • Deenie

      Cancer being the major killer that it is, what's a little discomfort? >.<

      May 22, 2012 at 07:00 | Report abuse |
  16. John

    Simply put – the PSA test saved my life. At 60 my PSA tested at 18.1 and the subsequent biopsy revealed high stage 2 cancer (Gleason score of 7). Two years after radiation treatment my PSA is .6 (yes, that's 6 tenths of a point). When I get my subsequent 6 month PSA test, the insurance pays less than 7 dollars! If prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death why is this even a debate!?

    May 22, 2012 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      The article talks about complications. Sure, prostate surgery changed my life somewhat but that is improving. The alternative was not living.

      May 22, 2012 at 06:35 | Report abuse |
  17. cwmcpa

    Oboma's war on men

    May 22, 2012 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. AGeek

    The USPSTF is made up of *primary care providers*, not oncologists, urologists, or others who have more complete knowledge of specific diseases. You have the potential for a serious, including fatal problem with the wiring in your house. Do you want a generic handyman to go identifying it or do you want a licensed electrician?

    The USPSTF needs to be disbanded. They're not just useless, they're downright *dangerous*. This is the same group of nutbags who were disrecommending mammograms.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kent Rhodes

    As others are saying, I too totally disagree with this report having been diagnosed – by rapidly rising PSA numbers and verified by biopsy – with prostate cancer at age 52. That's way too early even if it had been "slow growing" (which mine was not: 20 years is a long time, but I'd only be 72).

    The statistics are also sobering: Prostate cancer is the number 2 cancer killer of men in this country. No PSA testing, really?!?

    May 22, 2012 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. larry5

    Cutting back on testing and preventive care and healthcare in general is getting people prepared for Obamacare.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. EWL

    I had a very proactive doctor that recommended a series of escalating PSAs that led to a digital exam and biopsy, and subsequent removal of my cancerous prostrate at 49 in 2006. I've been fortunate with the side effects, but I'm not sure where I would be if this study had come out 10 years ago. I don't know what the right answer is, and I'm not sure that the Commission did either, but if doctors stop recommending the test, as mine has, I doubt many men ask for it, whether in reliance on this study, or out of fear of the side effects.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. GMH in SC

    I was diagnosed at age 44 with prostate cancer, which turned out to be a very aggressive type. I am now four years cancer-free following a radical perineal prostatectomy. Had my cancer not been caught when it was, I might not be here today.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • livingston1

      You were very fortunate you had the test. Unfortunately now you would be what insurance companies and researchers consider an acceptable loss.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
  23. Chad

    Looks like this Obamacare Task Force has made up it's mind. You're no longer profitable to the state if you develop prostate cancer, so it's better you die early.

    Funny how these non-Death Panels act, sound, and look just like Death Panels. Brilliant PR move.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jeff

    I think that their thinking is a bit backward. Often people recommend this test AFTER a certain age. In the case of PSA it should be if your are YOUNGER than a certain age. Even though it is rare, it happens to youner men. I am 39 and had prostate cancer in nearly half of my prostate. I luckily caught it early enough to have RPR and get it out while it was organ confined but boy do I feel lucky that I caught it. And yes...any good urologist will put you on antibiotics, retest a few times, and do a DRE BEFORE ever considering biopsy. I even had genetic testing to look for the aggressiveness of the cancer. A test is just a small piece of the puzzle needed to determine a path...as with any disease.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dave

    According to the United States preventive service my life is expendable. A PSA test saved my life. At 49 I had my prostate removed followed bye 7 weeks of radiation. Yes my quality of life has diminished some but at least I am here to be with my wife and 5 grand kids. With the new guidelines I doubt I would be here.

    May 22, 2012 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Robert

    This is such BS and typical of the Greediest Generation.

    There are side affects to everything in life but what this article doesn't tell of the most dangerous side affect of all...DEATH! If it wasn't for the PSA test my prostate cancer wouldn't have been detected early and that was 10 years ago and I would not be alive today. Prostate cancer has been termed an old mans disease but the truth is it strikes earlier than anyone ever suspected, because we simply weren't testing for it. This is nothing more than a cost cutting initiative and the cost is human lives.......

    May 22, 2012 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tonyb

    Since it's 1/1000 who benefit, don't offer the test? How stupid. It's an early warning system that you have a form of cancer, which allows subsequent diagnosis. These task force members sound like idiots.
    Also these morons lambasting Obamacare will probably benefit most from a comprehensive US health care program. Like good old Dick Cheney who finally has a heart.

    May 22, 2012 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fred

      Obamacare would have refused a heart to Cheney, he still has good insurance. Obamacare would have just sent him a nice picture postcard of Obama trying to get people to go to one of his luncheons for big donations instead.

      May 22, 2012 at 07:12 | Report abuse |
  28. Fred

    Sounds like the government death councils are already making way by no longer providing early detection and treatment of cancer. If it costs money, we should all just recognize that the insurance companies need to save that money for things like green tea and acupressure for healthy people. If you become seriously ill with cancer, then you should be able to just roll over and die to make way for someone healthy. There is no point in trying to extend your life a few years when it's going to cost more than you are worth.

    Soylent Green is People! Oh, yeah, and dog is quite tasty, look for it on your grade school lunch menu in 2013 and beyond. If the Great Leader Obama likes it, then it's good enough for you.

    May 22, 2012 at 07:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. rla

    I and several friends are alive after having this cancer detected early 55 in my case- This is things to come!!!! Just because as the article indicates you may die after 75 I guess some bureaucrat has decided tha older Americans can be sacraficed and left to die a rather nasty death so they can save money as one person indicated.... Note there are no statistics on all those death from treatment.... I wonder what the out cry would be if such a test for breast cancer was found and then denied for the above stated reasons????

    May 22, 2012 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. James

    I have a friend whose life was saved by a routine PSA. The test went from less than one to 17, and was the aggressive kind. They caught it early. He will live.

    May 22, 2012 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Rumpel Stiltskin

    Oh they'll stick their finger up my_ass and they'll like it.

    May 22, 2012 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. quincys assistant

    PSA lab test has always been unreliable, thanks for the old fyi CNN. Reliable or not it has saved more than a few patients I know, I don't recommend you stop getting one. The fun finger test is highly recommended in conjunction with the other.

    May 22, 2012 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. John

    In February 2009, I had a PSA test as part of my annual physical. My PSA level had gone way up, and a biopsy indicated that I had aggressive prostate cancer. l was 56 years old, married, and with a daughter still in colllege. Today, after radiation treatment, I'm cancer free and still enjoying life with my family.

    Until that PSA test, I had no idea I had a serious health problem. I feel very sad at the thought that other men may be deprived of the second chance that I have.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. keldorama

    The article says the survival rate from prostate cancer is very high. Maybe that's because it has been detected early by PSA testing and digital exams?

    And for the record, the task Force is NOT made up of bureaucrats and was NOT formed by the Obama administration. It was formed in 1984 and is comprised of practicing clinicians (doctors/nurses) who volunteer their time.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • EWL

      But at least early on did not include an oncologist or a urologist. I don't know if they were subsequently added.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:23 | Report abuse |
  35. Al

    I was 42 when I was diagnosed. Out of the 1,000 patients my doctor operated on, I was his second youngest. I am going on 6 years. PC is very aggressive in younger people like myself. The PSA, as a one-time test, may not be accurate, but certainly, as a relative marker from test to test, is a good indicator, and certainly, after an operation, any PSA reading is not a good thing. So, to me, there is value in the PSA test. I am living proof of that.

    As to the people talking politics, and sticking fingers up asses, give it a rest. Unless you've had it, have it, or had a scare, you aren't qualified to discuss it.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Richard

    Routine PSA testing saved my brother's life. So to all the naysayers – up yours.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. CanThinkForMyself

    I noticed an elvated PSA reading on my husband's test results a few years back (his dr did not notice it). As a result of this, tests were performed and it was determined he had cancer - early stage. He was in his mid 50s. He elected to have the surgery, and, in spite of supposed "nerve sparing", has been impotent since. Ask me which I'd rather have - an alive husband or a sexually active one. I give thanks for him by my side every day.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phil

      My wife did the same thing for me, and with the exact same results. We are thankful every day for having each other unconditionally.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:37 | Report abuse |
    • Paul from New Haven

      That's nice for you, post-menopausal with no libido left. However, your husband may have a different point of view.

      May 22, 2012 at 08:55 | Report abuse |
  38. Bradley Lemberg, M.D.

    Seems to me that the argument should hinge on increasing the decision making capability of the patient. A simple question must be asked of those who decry a test that may be the only way to determine if cancer is present. How can one make a decision, even based on information regarding options available, if one is denied the knowledge that he indeed may have cancer? It seems to me that the more information available enables one to make a more rational choice as to treatment. I would prefer to have the probable diagnosis known and then proceed to deciding what to do next rather than closing my eyes and NEVER even knowing I may have the disease. Forget the fact I am a physician and see an insidious attempt at cost comparison of a screening test.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Phil

    I couldn't disagree with this decision more. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 4 years ago at age 52. My PSA results were up and down, but did show a spike in 2003. My urologist at the time didn't do anything, but thankfully I went to a second, more competent doctor who suggested a biopsy. Out of the 12 samples, only one came back positive. But one is all it takes. A post-op biopsy of my prostate revealed a second, more aggressive tumor that the initial screening missed. Had I not had the PSA tests, I would still have cancer. Slow growing? Maybe, but tell that to Telly Savalas, Merv Griffin, Bill Bixby, or Frank Zappa. They all died from the disease.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phil

      Oh, and a postscript. The first urologist used to come to my company annually to do PSA/DRE exams. That's how I first met him. A few months after my surgery, I saw he was coming back for his annual visit. I thought I would talk to him about not being aggressive enough with ordering biopsies, so I made an appointment. He didn't recognize me, but instead without missing a beat, he told me to drop my draws and bend over. I figured "why not," so played along. Up he goes, and what does he tell me? That my prostate in *fine, smooth*! I said "really, doctor? That's very interesting given that I don't have one!" I proceeded to tell him my full tale, suggesting that he go back to medical school or perhaps pursue another career altogether. I also complained to the coordinator of our program and he hasn't been back since. So, please don't say that we should forget the PSA test and just go with DRE's. Clearly, some doctors have their heads up where their fingers should be!

      May 22, 2012 at 08:48 | Report abuse |
  40. Paul from New Haven

    What underpins all of this is the belief that men, diagnosed with a low-risk, indolent prostate cancer, will run screaming to a surgeon to "get it out! get it out!" and wind up impotent and incontinent for much, if not all, of the rest of their lives "curing" a cancer that probably would never have harmed them.

    As someone with prostate cancer, I believe that men should get any available information, but should act more calmly and appropriately with that information in hand. Doing nothing is very often the best thing.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Paul from New Haven

    In the as yet unfinalized PIVOT trial that compares intervention (surgery) with observation, over 700 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer were followed for 10 years. Half of the men weren't treated for their cancer. 25 men out of 700 died of prostate cancer. That's right, 25. About half of the men who died were in the group that had surgery.

    May 22, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. clarinets

    Attention 1 out of 1000 men: Obama says just go die.

    May 22, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. PC

    The picture shown at the top of this article is NOT indicative of a PSA test. A PSA test involves nothing more than having a small sample of blood drawn from a vein in one of your arms. It takes about a minute..easier than donating blood, for sure. If your doctor has ever had you go for blood work, you know how easy it is and in fact you may have already been given a PSA test and not even know it as part of the overall blood work tests. I don't understand why they are using this picture except to instill concern, and maybe even fear, into those who do not understand PSA testing to support the findings being presented in this article.

    May 22, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Ken from FL

    This article makes it sound as if the PSA test itself is harmful to the individual, which is patently absurd. The test involves drawing blood, usually done in conjunction with drawing blood for other routine screening purposes. There is no harm to the patient. And if it points the way to the need for a biopsy - I would hope that doctors don't start radiation and chemotherapy without one - that strikes me as all fine and good. The PSA test does work, if used properly. What's next: will the panel recommend againstdoing regular lipids panels??

    May 22, 2012 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Dave

    I am sorry, but the recommendation is idiotic. The PSA test is simply a blood test and causes no harm. In fact, the test can be performed with blood beeing pulled for other tests, such as cholestorol, glucose, etc. Maybe it's not perfect, but at least it provides some insight into what could or could not be going on. Any harm doesn't come from the PSA test...it could come from NOT having the test, or procedures that are done in consultation with a doctor, long after the blood was pulled. To say that the test casues harm is stupid, and the USPSTF should correct their message or be replaced.

    May 22, 2012 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ron in California

      it's about the cost..not the result.

      May 22, 2012 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
  46. rc

    Had a routine test and my PSA had doubled in one year. Had a biopsy and cancer was found. It would not have been found with out the routine test as I felt perfectly healthy. The cancer was found when I was 50. Get the test done.

    May 22, 2012 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Ron in California

    Many folks are linking this article to Obamacare, many are defending Obamacare. However, is it a coincidence that in the last year there have been a number of changes to long standing medical guidelines. PSA, PAP smears for women over 60, and several others. I wonder??

    May 22, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gordotaco

      Its called rationed healthcare Ron. It is the cost of giving everyone (including non-citizens) coverage with limited resources. Dems love it until one of their family members gets sick.....then they want the best care available. If we go down that path......best care will be determined by demographics and age. If you are in your mid-late 70s......too bad.....your time is up. Thanks for the vote.

      May 22, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
  48. Alan Glick

    I am not a physician but I have managed a urology practice. While this written piece is a little more balanced, the presentation on tv just now should have been given by a doctor, not correspondent Cho. It was largely presented as fact that PSA screening was no longer necessary, not as the opinion of this panel. The fact that more accurate means of identifying aggressive cancer was not mentioned so that treatment decisions can be more targeted. This was dumb downed reporting – something I am so used to by now I can hardly watch tv news. Not having a urologist on a panel determining the value of PDA screening is inexcusable.

    May 22, 2012 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. gordotaco

    For all of those who dont know anyone who has been saved by early detection (like my friend at age 39, and then his wife 2 years later)....this is just a numbers game and an academic exercise. My guess is that you will feel different after your prostate cancer has spread and then you find out that it could have been treated. Im sure your views will be different on your death bed or watching your spouse die years earlier than their time. Whats good for the gander is okay for the goose in this case. I would like to see if the members on the board are not going to have the screening.

    May 22, 2012 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Matt

    "As someone with prostate cancer, I believe that men should get any available information, but should act more calmly and appropriately with that information in hand. Doing nothing is very often the best thing."

    As someone in the same boat (7 years of watchful waiting), I absolutely agree 100%. I think, however, the more common reality is that after an elevated PSA and a positive biopsy, many men elect for immediate treatment. Many of their posts are on this board - to the effect that the "surgery saved my life." Maybe, but also maybe not. I think the point of the recommendation was this reality - many men react to an elevated PSA with immediate treatment that can't be proved necessary. Obviously, however, many men who elected such treatment are satisfied with their decision. Isn't this important?

    May 22, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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