As you likely noticed, late yesterday afternoon the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced its final recommendation against the use of PSA testing in the early detection of prostate cancer. As we suspected they might, they gave PSA testing a “D” grade. In other words, they recommend against the service and that there is moderate or high certainty the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.
Like many people and organizations, Us TOO International is deeply disappointed with this recommendation and has joined with the Prostate Cancer Roundtable to express our concern in a joint press release.
I believe a “D” grade from the USPSTF will discourage men and their doctors from even beginning a conversation about individual risk of prostate cancer or whether PSA screening may be right for them. We know that certain categories of men are at increased risk of developing prostate cancer—including African American men, men with a family history, veterans exposed to Agent Orange and men with an above-average baseline PSA in their 40s—and the USPSTF does not address the benefits of PSA screening for me in these groups. It’s also important to remember that prostate cancer doesn’t just affect men—the disease can have a serious impact on their partners, families and even on society.
Research from the National Cancer Institute has shown that as much as 70 percent of the drop in prostate cancer deaths since 1975 can be attributed to PSA screening. And research based on data from Sweden and Denmark, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and elsewhere, shows that even a single PSA test given between the ages of 44 to 50 can help predict the future diagnosis of prostate cancer. It is about education, informed decision making, and self-empowerment.
While the PSA test is certainly not perfect, it is the best we’ve got at our disposal right now. Now more than ever, in this period of confusing messages as the media reports surface, we along with the other member organizations of the Prostate Cancer Roundtable encourage men to continue to have educated discussions with their healthcare providers about whether PSA testing is right for them.
What can you do? Take action to educate yourself and speak up to educate others. Use your passion on this issue in a constructive manner to reach out to help others determine what step is best for them. I, like many, believe that every individual has a right to know if he has cancer and to make an informed decision about what is best for him. I also believe no one wants to be overtreated or undertreated.
We are here to help others work through such decisions - that is what Us TOO is all about. As we say, "Someone to talk to, who understands…"
President & CEO
Us TOO International
Downers Grove, IL 60655
Toll Free: 800-808-7866