Friday, March 5, 2010

Cancer survivors, doctors support continued PSA testing for men

While the American Cancer Society has cast doubt on the importance of annual prostate exams, cancer survivors are challenging the organization's stance and say the tests do save lives.

"The message is wrong," said Lewis Musgrove, chairman of Gov. Jim Gibbons' task force on prostate cancer. "How else are you supposed to know you have it? If you ask us survivors how we found out, most of us will say through a screening.

"And if you ask us if we had to do it over, would we want to find out sooner, you would know the answer."

Musgrove, 81, was discussing the ACS recommendations announced Wednesday that said routine blood tests for Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) lack clear benefits and should not be done without extensive consultation between doctor and patient.

The organization said that many "abnormal" PSA test results cause needless treatment, anxiety and pain from biopsies because more often than not, the patient will have an infection, not cancer. The ACS said men with average risk should begin testing at 50, and 45 for those at higher risk, including African Americans and men with a family history, while the Prostate Conditions Education Council in Denver recommends men start testing at 40.

These new guidelines are similar to those announced in November by a government task force and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urging delayed testing for breast and cervical cancers, for similar reasons.

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