The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made waves in 2009 when they recommended that, instead of annual mammograms starting at age 40, women wait until age 50 and only get checked every other year. Now, the panel has sparked controversy again by recommending that most men shouldn’t receive routine PSA tests for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the U.S. for men, second only to lung cancer. However, the panel found that a substantial number of men are receiving unnecessary cancer treatments, as their disease is so slow-growing that it’s not life threatening.
According to the panel, out of every 1000 men who are tested for prostate cancer and receive resulting treatment, one will develop a blood clot in his legs or lungs, two will have heart attacks, up to 40 will be left impotent or with urinary disorders, and only one man will avoid death.
Medical director of the Urological Research Foundation Dr. William Catalona is an outspoken opponent of the panel’s recommendations who also helped create the PSA test.
On Starting Point this morning, Dr. Catalona describes the recommendation as “misguided” and “unjustified,” saying that although the test is not perfect, he believes that doctors can work through the problems to identify when a patient has aggressive cancer “in almost every instance.”
“If we were to stop PSA testing over the next decade or two, the prostate cancer death rate would double or triple,” Dr. Catalona says.