Memo to USPSTF: Hire a PR Pro

Merrill Goozner

Posted 10/18/11 on GoozNews

Last Friday at 3 p.m., the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality held a telephone briefing to inform the press and public about the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation against routine screening of prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in middle-aged men. The “D” recommendation, now open for public comment, said the harms from false positives and overtreatment of prostate cancer identified by elevated PSA levels outweighed any benefits that would be achieved by the early identification of the relatively small percentage of cases that would lead to metastatic disease and early death.

They posted no slides to go along with the three presentations made at the briefing. They didn’t spell out the names of the men who spoke (I scribbled down Moyer, Chou and LeFebre). And, when they concluded their presentations, they didn’t take questions.

Continue reading “Memo to USPSTF: Hire a PR Pro”

PSA Testing: Will Science Finally Trump Politics?

Kenneth Lin

First published 2/28/11 on Common Sense MD

Maybe the third time will finally be the charm.

[DSC02696.JPG]In early November 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force voted unanimously to update its 15-month old recommendations on screening for prostate cancer in men younger than 75, changing its previous rating of “I” (insufficient evidence) to “D” (recommends against). But after a shocking political firestorm erupted over the Task Force’s new recommendations making mammography optional for women in their 40s, it decided to postpone finalizing the new statement pending a more precise estimate of the harms inflicted by indiscriminate PSA testing. As a medical officer at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, I personally wrote the evidence review upon which the USPSTF based its initial recommendations and helped to commission and oversee an independent report of the harms of prostate cancer treatments authored by one of AHRQ’s Evidence-Based Practice Centers.

Continue reading “PSA Testing: Will Science Finally Trump Politics?”