More Screening Controversy

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In a summary of the American Urological Association PSA Best Practice Policy 2009, The Journal of Urology reveals the American Urological Association's updated recommendation that PSA screening begin at age forty instead of fifty.

"They appear to be completely out of step with recent commentaries which say that some screening methods are overused," says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. "There is little evidence that PSA screening saves men's lives. What's missing here is our ability to have a test that tells which tumors are indolent and which are aggressive. If we had that then screening would make sense, but we don't have that. The large majority of prostate cancers are slow-growing and pose no risk to life or health."

"Prostate cancer is a fairly indolent cancer," says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. "You have to screen hundreds or thousands of men to save a single life, since PSA is well known to have very poor predictive value, with many false positives and false negatives. Also, the devastation wreaked by mass screening for PSA far outweighs the risk of false positives for breast cancer, for example. I think internists and primary care physicians will take this with a grain of salt."