Navigation Links
Making Sense of Cancer Screening Updates

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- As experts alter course on guidelines for cancer screenings such as mammograms and the prostate-specific antigen test, the general public is understandably confused.

Women at age 40 wonder if they should have a mammogram to look for breast cancer or wait until 50, as one U.S. organization suggests. Men of an age when prostate cancer develops may be told to forgo the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, contrary to standard past practice. And sexually active women may not feel safe from cervical cancer if they wait years between Pap tests.

"It's difficult to accept that having less testing is either as good or even better than having more," said Dr. Robert Mayer, faculty vice president for academic affairs at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Based on new research, some major cancer groups are advising the medical profession to be more judicious about who gets tested and when.

"I don't think the data are as conclusive that screening is as bad or as good as we had hoped," said Dr. David Penson, professor of urologic surgery and director of surgical quality and outcomes research at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Probably the most controversial recommendation came from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government body that publishes screening guidelines. It set off a furor two years ago when it announced that mammograms may not benefit women in their 40s, while women aged 50 to 74 could safely undergo screening once every two years instead of annually.

This year, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care came out with similar recommendations on breast cancer screening, suggesting that women aged 40 to 49 at average risk for breast cancer not get routine mammograms.

This, of course, runs counter to long-standing conventional wisdom that all women over the age of 40 should undergo a yearly mammogram.

These organizations reasoned that mammograms can result in false positives and unnecessary biopsies, harm that in some instances may outweigh the benefits of this type of screening. Soaring health costs may also weigh in the decision-making.

However, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists still advocate screening starting at age 40.

"I don't see a trend of backing away from endorsement for screening among many organizations," said Robert Smith, senior director of cancer control at the American Cancer Society. "Frankly, I see it in one."

But the medical establishment is backing away from PSA screening for prostate cancer, because the test is far from perfect, resulting in many unnecessary biopsies.

Increased PSA levels can indicate cancer, but they are not a foolproof measure. PSA levels rise naturally as men age, explained Mayer. Levels can also rise if men have had two or three sexual experiences in the prior few days.

"There are an enormous number of false positives," Mayer added. "How does one then say what's good for everybody?"

And not all prostate cancers are created equal, some being highly aggressive and others very slow-growing. Invasive treatment may be more harmful than watching and waiting, some doctors say.

"We know that less than 10 percent of men with prostate cancer ever die of the disease," Mayer said. "That's very different from colon cancer, where 40 to 50 percent die from it, or breast cancer, where 30 to 40 percent die from it."

The bottom line for both breast and prostate cancers: Check with your health care provider on what is the best screening schedule for you.

Cervical cancer screening guidelines have also evolved over the years.

In October, three groups, including the American Cancer Society, jointly created guidelines calling for women to get fewer cervical cancer screenings over their lifetime.

The guidelines also call for combination Pap testing and HPV (human papillomavirus) testing in women aged 30 and older, placing stronger emphasis on HPV testing than guidelines officially released at the same time from the USPSTF.

But the issue here is less controversial. "We have more sensitive tests in our ability to detect what is a slow-growing disease," said Smith.

More information

Visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute for more on cancer screening tests.

SOURCES: Robert Smith, Ph.D., senior director of cancer control, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Robert J. Mayer, M.D., faculty vice president for academic affairs, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; David Penson, M.D., professor, urologic surgery and director, surgical quality and outcomes research, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. New discoveries about human risk aversion and decision-making
2. California making headway in battle against childhood obesity but successes are uneven
3. Dopamine release in human brain tracked at microsecond timescale reveals decision-making
4. Making the healthy choice the easy choice
5. Living with dementia and making decisions
6. T cells making brain chemicals may lead to better treatments for inflammation, autoimmune diseases
7. Making Sure Back to School Doesnt Mean Back to Bullying
8. University of Houston hosts book symposium on Making War and Minting Christians, Sept. 8
9. Schizophrenia study finds cognitive deficits significantly impair decision-making capacity
10. Carpal tunnel syndrome patients prefer to share decision-making with their physicians
11. Clemson University researchers are making every bite count
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Making Sense of Cancer Screening Updates
(Date:11/26/2015)... ON (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... of a real-time eReferral system for diagnostic imaging in the Waterloo region. Using ... BMD and Nuclear Medicine tests directly from their electronic medical record (EMR) without ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... WorldCare International, Inc., ... the 61st annual Employee Benefits Conference. The Employee Benefits Conference was hosted by ... through Wednesday, November 11th, 2015. The conference was held at the Hawaii Convention ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... As part of a global movement ... volunteers together who want to combine talents and resources to help create sustainable ... process. The non-profit launched its first major fundraiser on November 6, 2015 at ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dr. John Pierce, Medical ... more about hair loss treatment with the Capillus272™ Pro laser therapy cap. FDA cleared ... thicker and fuller hair, without the need for surgery, prescription pills, or topical foams. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Lakeview Health, a Jacksonville-based drug and ... sobriety and show through pictures what a positive difference it makes. The social ... the hashtag #FacesOfGratitude on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Short stories ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Congress ... of Dimes cheered today,s signature into law of ... 2015 (S.799), which takes much-needed strides to ... drugs, such as opioids, and to improve their ... have worked together leading advocacy efforts for its ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Henry Schein, Inc., the world,s ... office-based dental, medical and animal health practitioners, will unveil ... Henry Schein ConnectDental® Pavilion , which brings together ... open solutions designed to help any practice or laboratory ... for a schedule of experts appearing at the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Allergan plc (NYSE: ... Rugen Therapeutics, a start-up  biotechnology company focused on ... disorders and funded by the F-Prime Biomedical Research ... into an exclusive collaboration to support the discovery ... Disorders (ASD) and Obsessive Compulsive disorders (OCD). ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: