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Group upset over U.S. abandonment of PSA test to identify prostate cancer

OW Staff | 6/13/2012, 5 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The United States Preventive Services Task Force has issued its final recommendation for early detection of prostate cancer, effectively eliminating the PSA test and leaving American men without a defense in the fight against prostate cancer, according to Skip Lockwood, CEO of Zero--The Project to End Prostate Cancer.

"We are greatly disappointed by the decision to give the PSA test a 'D' rating by United States Preventive Services Task Force," said Lockwood. "We believe that the decision, which eliminates men's access to potentially lifesaving information provided by a PSA test, should not be made by a government panel that doesn't include a medical oncologist or urologist."

The USPSTF rated PSA testing "D," saying there is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits. This decision contradicts prostate cancer testing recommendations from medical and professional organizations, including the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American Urological Association.

Since the decision by the USPSTF in 2009 to change prostate cancer testing recommendations for men over the age of 75, no new research has been cited that would call for a drastic change in prostate cancer testing recommendations for all men.

Recent research confirms that the PSA test saves lives. The results of the Goteborg Randomized Population-based Prostate Cancer Screening Trial, released in July 2010, showed a 44 percent decline in prostate cancer deaths as a result of PSA testing. In this Swedish study, partially funded by the National Cancer Institute, an analysis of some 20,000 men was conducted during a 14-year period.

The PSA test and advances in treatment have led to a 40 percent reduction in prostate cancer deaths since the mid-1990s, and 90 percent of all prostate cancers are now discovered before they spread outside the gland. The five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent when prostate cancer is detected early, while the tumor is still localized and hasn't spread.

The decision on how best to test and treat for prostate cancer must be made between a man and his doctor and Zero encourages men to continue to educate themselves and be active participants in their healthcare. In the absence of an improved test for the disease, Zero believes that all men, especially those with risk factors, need to consider testing for prostate cancer in order to have the most information possible and make the best health decisions.

For more information on prostate cancer risk, testing and diagnosis, and treatment options, visit www.ZeroCancer.org.