Reports surfaced Thursday of an influential medical group of doctors and advisers vote against routine screenings of prostate cancer for healthy men.
Although, the vote for men over 75 to forgo the screenings and blood tests has drawn criticism from health groups worried that the move will increase deaths in men at risk of the cancer.
We have put a huge amount of time, effort and energy into PSA screening and that time, effort and energy, that passion, should be going into finding a better test instead of using a test that doesn't work, Dr. Virginia Moyer of the Baylor College of Medicine, head of the task force, disagreed.
Current recommendations say there is insufficient evidence to support the use of the test.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel that recommends whether doctors should scale back on mammograms for women or not, recommended that doctors not use the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Today's decision of no confidence on the PSA test by the U.S. government condemns tens of thousands of men to die this year and every year going forward if families are to believe the out-of-date evidence presented by the USPSTF, Skip Lockwood, chief executive of ZERO, a group devoted to ending prostate cancer, told reporters.
The PSA test measures levels of a protein produced by the prostate gland to gauge a man's risk of prostate cancer, but the test has a high rate of false positives.
The task force analyzed all the previous research on PSA screening to evaluate whether routine tests reduce prostate cancer deaths.
Members found a number of risks from routine PSA tests: impotence, incontinence, infections, and even death that can come from subsequent biopsies, radiation and surgery, CBS News reports.
A decision on how best to test and treat for prostate cancer must be made between a man and his doctor. This decision is coming from a panel that doesn't even include a urologist or medical oncologist, Lockwood said.
Dr. Scott Eggener, an expert in prostate cancer at the University of Chicago, said the new recommendations, if adopted, would discourage men from getting prostate cancer screening.
Eggener said the move is a classic example of 'throwing the baby out with the bath water,' adding that, a more sensible approach is to use all of our currently available tools to intelligently determine which patients are most likely to benefit from screening and treatment.