Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prostate cancer screening advantage "overstated"

The chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society might have dropped a bomb when he told the New York Times in a story ("Cancer Society, in shift, has concerns on screening") on Wednesday:

"We don’t want people to panic. But I’m admitting that American medicine has overpromised when it comes to screening. The advantages to screening have been exaggerated.”

That's not great comfort to all of use who carefully watched PSA tests and took action when the levels started to rise.

Dr. Otis Brawley was responding to a report that the American Cancer Society is working on a message that screening for prostate, breast and other cancers can result it overtreating small cancers while missing other cancers that are deadly.

Clarifying his statement later regarding prostate cancer, Brawley said:

"Since 1997 the American Cancer Society has recommended that men talk to their doctor and make an informed decision about whether or not prostate cancer early detection testing is right for them. This recommendation also still stands."

ABC News sought out Dr. William Catalona, director of the Clinical Prostate Cancer Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, for his reaction:

"In the U.S. there has been an 85 percent decrease in the percentage of prostate cancer cases that present with advanced-stage disease and a 40 percent reduction in the age-specific prostate cancer mortality rate during the PSA screening era... I continue to recommend PSA screening to my patients."

No comments: