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Panel's Rejection of PSA Test Spurs Mixed Reaction From Experts
Date:10/8/2011

rence between cancers that will and will not affect a man during his natural lifetime. We need to find one that does."

But Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a prostate cancer expert, said the task force's recommendation is misguided.

D'Amico noted that in the European study, screening reduced cancer deaths among these younger men by 44 percent. The U.S. study also showed a 44 percent reduction in cancer death among younger men, he added. "If they look at all the screening studies, they will find that the people who benefited most from screening were the youngest and presumably the healthiest," he noted.

"The panel has not really appreciated the entirety of the evidence," D'Amico said. "Considering all of the data, it appears that younger or healthier men benefit from PSA screening."

Right now, most men are advised to undergo regular PSA tests beginning at age 50. However, because most prostate cancers grow very slowly and may never prove fatal, the value of early treatment has come into question.

Of course, some prostate tumors are aggressive and can prove deadly. Most experts acknowledge that the real problem, right now, is that there's no reliable test to tell a patient which type of tumor he might have.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, also cautioned that the task force's decision is not yet set in stone.

"It is important to keep in mind that under the new USPSTF process, the recommendation is not final until the conclusion of the public comment period and the USPSTFs review of those comments," he said.

According to Brawley, the cancer society pored over the existing body of evidence in 2009 and at that point it determined that it could not conclude whether or not PSA screening saves lives.

"We have long been concerned, and it has been very apparent for some years, that some supporters of prostate cancer scre
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