Groups protest after recommendation on prostate cancer screening

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The American Urological Association issued a statement Oct. 7 opposing the recommendation by The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to stop screening seemingly healthy men for prostate cancer.

The objection came amid the fierce debate that took place after the announcement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force was issued Oct. 6. The Prostate Cancer Foundation has said they will issue a statement next week on the task force’s proposal.

The rationale behind the proposal from the task force, they said, was that many men are getting prostate surgery they don’t end up needing, putting them at risk for incontinence or impotence later down the line. The same task force made the controversial recommendation to stop screening women with mammography routinely in their 40s a couple of years ago. There was an outcry from breast cancer survivors, doctors and families at that time, as well.

People know cancer kills, and according to The American Cancer Society, 32,000 men die every year from prostate cancer, so doctors are not the only ones upset.

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The American Urological Association's president, Dr. Sushil S. Lacy, said the screening is necessary to keep so many men from dying every year.

“Until there is a better widespread test for this potentially devastating disease, the (task force) — by disparaging the test — is doing a great disservice to the men worldwide who may benefit from the PSA test," he said.

The PSA test, or the prostate-specific antigen test, is the one the task force said was not necessary in seemingly healthy men. Many men also have digital rectal exams to screen for prostate cancer.

Dr. Michael L. LeFevre, co-vice chairman of the task force, said in the New York Times that the task force panel originally voted against routine prostate cancer screening in 2009. But the controversy surrounding the recommendation on breast cancer screening with mammography was intense and ongoing and he said he made the decision to slow the process on the prostate recommendation.

"I looked at this and said, 'I know this is going to happen with prostate cancer for all the same reasons, and we absolutely have to have the science right,'” he said in The New York Times. In regard to the delay, LeFevre said, “I will take full blame and full credit.”

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