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Prostate Cancer Advisory Threat to Black Men?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has made a controversial recommendation that could affect millions of men. The group of experts advises against prostate-specific antigen screenings. Almost immediately, public health and medical professionals cried foul as prostate cancer disproportionately affects black men, who are likely to die from the disease compared to white men.
African-American men may have the highest rate of prostate cancer incidence in the world. In addition, their prostate cancer mortality rate is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. Given this information, many see this panel recommendation as a threat to the health of black men.
The statement released by the panel says this recommendation applies to men in the general U.S. population, regardless of age, and does not include the use of the PSA test for surveillance after diagnosis or treatment of prostate cancer; the use of the PSA test for this indication is outside the scope of the advisory group, said Dr. Michael LeFevre, co-chairman of the group.
“Prostate cancer is a serious health problem that affects thousands of men and their families. But before getting a PSA test, all men deserve to know what the science tells us about PSA screening: There is a very small potential benefit and significant potential harms,” the group said.
“We encourage clinicians to consider this evidence and not screen their patients with a PSA test unless the individual being screened understands what is known about PSA screening and makes the personal decision that even a small possibility of benefit outweighs the known risk of harms.”
The task force concluded many men are harmed as a result of prostate cancer screening and few, if any, benefit — a better test and better treatment options are needed, the advisory group said. The Large Urology Group Practice Association said it was appalled at the recommendation that healthy men should no longer receive PSA blood tests as part of routine cancer screening. If you are even the slightest concern about prostate cancer, see a doctor and talk about getting screened. Early screening can help save lives and increase the quality of life.