A good doctor believes in preventative medicine that is proactive—not reactive—to his or her patients’ health. That’s why medical professionals from across the country stood behind PSA Testing when the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) claimed it should be reserved for men who already show symptoms of prostate cancer.
In 2012, USPSTF published a Grade D Recommendation that PSA Screenings should be avoided by healthy men because the psychological harm of a false positive and the possible side effects supposedly outweighed the amount of lives that benefitted from preventative PSA screenings.
USPSTF’s Grade on PSA Testing Received Immediate Backlash
The USPSTF’s D Grade on PSA Testing created an uproar in the medical community. The American Urological Association and individual urologists were first to speak up against the inaccuracy of their claims. One of the leading voices included Dr. William Catalona, MD, who was a pioneer in the research that led to the development of the PSA tests in the first place.
Dr. Catalona pointed out that the decision made by the USPSTF did not include the input of physicians who specialized in urology or oncology. Instead, it was comprised solely of a group of primary care providers whose broad understanding of the medical field did not delve deep enough into specialized areas to make a fair determination.
The USPSTF’s decision was based on the limited data pulled from two large trials that conducted PSA Screenings for prostate cancer. One demonstrated no variation in mortality rate between men who were screened and men who weren’t while the other demonstrated a 29% reduction in mortality rate. That percentage was deemed by the USPSTF to be “too low” to be significant.
Medical Professionals Cite Flaws in USPSTF’s Ruling
Dr. Marc Rendell, MD, of Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska and other nationally recognized medical professionals familiar with the treatment of prostate cancer, cited multiple reasons why USPSTF’s D Grade recommendation was flawed, some of which include:
- A one-sided approach that failed to factor in procedures and complications that occurred within unscreened patients
- A lack of consideration of the potential benefits for high-risk populations
- Factoring their decision based on mortality rates while neglecting the illness associated with living with cancer
- Making a blanketed recommendation across all age groups, which could potentially increase the number of diagnoses for advanced prostate cancer due to lack of screening
- Neglecting data beyond the two trials examined that shows significant reductions in mortalities and late-stage diagnoses since PSA screening began
Why Grades Matter
The D Grade poses issues in the fact that it prevents Medicare from covering the service without a copay, which can prevent patients from opting to receive a preventative screening that could catch the early signs of prostate cancer and begin treatment before the cancer escalates.
USPSTF is Now Reevaluating Their Decision
The outcry from a multitude of experts in the field of urology and oncology pushed the USPSTF to re-evaluate their Grade D recommendation on PSA Screenings. The Task Force is going back into the research phase to consider what an overwhelming number of doctors and medical professionals have been saying for many years: that preventative measures taken to detect the early onset of cancer saves lives.
It’s a proven claim. Epidemiologic data neglected in the USPSTF’s original research stated that there’s been a 40% reduction in prostate cancer mortalities and a 75% reduction in diagnosis of late-stage prostate cancer since PSA testing was introduced.
Gulfshore Urology is a southwest Florida based practice that offers PSA Screenings to its patients. For questions regarding PSA Screenings or to schedule an appointment, you can reach their Bonita Springs office at 239-333-3200.