• Strength of evidence

    For at least several years, several medical societies have recommended that men above the age of 75 should not be screened for prostate cancer. The USPSTF goes further and recommends against screening at any age. Yet, a recent estimate is that well over half of men ages 75-79 years were screened for prostate cancer.


    To find out, go read my latest at the AcademyHealth blog.


    • I am way outside my comfort zone here except as a patient. I think every male should be screened for prostate cancer. The question is how, correct?

      • Be a more informed patient. Just read the posts here on this topic and follow the links for more: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/tag/prostate-cancer/

        • Your links say that PSA tests don’t do a very good job of detecting prostate cancer vs. detecting… (other problems with the prostate). And that PSA testing leads to unnecessary biopsies which can have side effects that make life miserable and/or outweigh (or something statistical) the chance of dying of prostate cancer.

          But your blog post above says men maybe don’t need to be screened for prostate cancer. My point was that old men == or at least those between 50-75 == still need to get their prostates checked annually. The issue is the how of the test not whether it needs to be done.

          • I’m not going to give you medical advice. You can read the advice of bodies of physicians (like the USPSTF) and make up your own mind.

            • I am sorry but I am not asking you for medical advice. I am suggestring you not give it to others because according to your bio you are not a doctor.

            • I took your comment seriously enough to take another look at my post. I didn’t see where I gave medical advice. I did see where I linked to the research and judgments of medical experts. This conversation is over.

    • Easy———->

      “Doctor, I want that prostate test. My army buddy just was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a hell of a time with surgery and everything, because his doctor told him he had a bad case.”

      “Well, I suppose you have read the recent newspaper articles about the risks involved with testing, and that it doesn’t really improve life expectancy in men tested.”

      “Yea, well, doc, I just don’t want to go through what he went through. Let’s do the test, because I want treatment early, if there’s cancer.”

      “Let’s talk more about this. It really isn’t a test that helps save lives.”

      “Doc, it’s a test for cancer, that’s simple enough. My insurance will pay for it, so let’s do it. Don’t get testy with me, okay?”

      Sigh. “Fine, lets order it.”

    • I also don’t understand. Are we really saying that we should let prostate cancer go untreated? My dad who is around 60 was diagnosed and treated 2 years ago. Are you saying that his life expectancy if we had let the cancer grow and develop would be the same as his life expectancy now that he has had the cancer removed?

      Sorry if I am dense, but the post was so assuming and casual I want to make sure I am understanding it right.

      • You are right, Robin. That is exactly what we are saying, for good reasons.

        I think it is really worth you calling that out though because it is a really difficult concept to communicate to people. Given that our social/cultural reaction is “cancer” is “GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT NOW!” that just doesn’t make sense to most of us. We have a social story of Cancer = Death and little nuance to say that’s really not true in some cases.

        It’s easy for us policy specialists and researchers to say that PSA testing doesn’t save any lives, but we need to recognize (as Austin’s post describes) that it is a really difficult concept to communicate in the current state of general knowledge about cancer.