Saturday, June 2, 2012

My take on USPSTF final prostate cancer screening guidelines

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released its final prostate cancer screening guidelines on May 21st, 2012, during the American Urological Association Annual Meeting (curious my opinion).

The task force recommended against PSA-based screening altogether for prostate cancer by giving the practice a "D" rating.  From the USPSTF grade definitions site this means: "The USPSTF recommends against the service. There is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits."  The task force suggests that healthcare providers: "Discourage the use of this service." This recommendation is no different than the draft recommendations issued in October, 2012 despite vocal opposition from many sources.

The American Urological Association (AUA), American Cancer Society (ACS), and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have issued guidelines recommending men to have discussions with their healthcare providers regarding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

AUA Guideline
ACS Guideline
NCCN Guideline

The AUA has expressed its vigorous opposition to the the final USPSTF recommendation.  AUA President, Dr. Sushil Lacy, released this statement about it on behalf of its members.  The AUA also has a website about the issue and prepared a fact sheet about PSA testing for its members.

My take:
The PSA screening controversy is a complex issue.  There are many factors involved in screening such as age, expected longevity, race, family history, and urologic symptoms.  I believe that at this time, the USPSTF blanket recommendation is too simplistic.  I urge men to talk further with their healthcare providers regarding this issue and consider referral to a urologist if there are still lingering questions about prostate cancer screening.  Also, the diagnosis of prostate cancer does not necessarily mandate treatment.  Depending on the clinical scenario, monitoring of the disease or "active surveillance" can be a viable option for many men.

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