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.

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