AUA: Task Force Recommendations on Prostate Cancer Testing Do More Harm Than Good
Association urges U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to revise guidance on prostate cancer testing
LINTHICUM, Md., Nov. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Rather than discourage men from being tested for prostate cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force should instead focus on how to better educate key audiences about targeted screening, risk and the role of active surveillance in the management of this potentially devastating disease, according to comments submitted this week to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In a letter sent to Task Force Chair Dr. Virginia Moyer, the American Urological Association (AUA) urged the group to reconsider its draft recommendations, pointing out that it is not the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test itself, but rather what is done with the information, that has created much of the controversy regarding over-diagnosis and overtreatment of prostate cancer.
“Telling men not to get tested for prostate cancer will move us backward, not forward,” said AUA President Sushil S. Lacy, MD, FACS. “Instead, our approach should involve screening a more focused, healthy population, with a contemporary discussion of all therapeutic options, including active surveillance by knowledgeable providers, and integrating better molecular markers and imaging into the decision pathways.”
Prostate cancer testing has allowed for early diagnosis of a cancer that, when confined to the prostate, is still curable, but when outside the confines of the prostate, is not. When used and interpreted appropriately, the PSA test – currently the only widely available biomarker for prostate cancer – provides valuable information in the diagnosis, pre-treatment staging or risk assessment and monitoring of the disease, especially in younger men. The AUA believes that the decision to proceed to active treatment following a diagnosis of prostate cancer is one that men should discuss in detail with their urologists to determine whether active treatment is necessary, or whether surveillance may be an option for their prostate cancer. Healthy men with a life expectancy of 10-15 years should have the choice to be tested and not be discouraged from doing so.
“In its earliest stages, most prostate cancers cause no symptoms. To say that only men with symptoms of prostate cancer should be tested will potentially result in a return to a time when men presented with high-grade, metastatic disease for which there were few treatment options,” Dr. Lacy said. “Issuing a ‘Grade D’ recommendation for prostate cancer testing sets a course that may, in fact, do more harm than good.”
To view the full AUA comments, visit www.AUAnet.org/USPSTF. For more information about the AUA’s position on the early detection of prostate cancer, or to arrange an interview with an expert urologist, please contact the AUA Communications Office at 410-689-3932.
About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 18,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients.
MEDIA CONTACTS: AUA Media Relations: 410-689-3932
Wendy Waldsachs Isett: 410-689-3789
SOURCE American Urological Association