Doctors’ concern at US prostate report
AUSTRALIAN doctors have warned men not to be alarmed about a United States report advising all men against prostate cancer screening.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand urge men to still discuss prostate cancer screening with their GP, despite the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines.
The final guidelines, published in May, advised men of all ages in the US against prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing because there was little evidence that it saved lives.
It also took into account that men often suffered impotence, incontinence, heart attacks and occasionally death from treating tiny tumours that would not have been fatal.
However, the PCFA says the largest study to date – the European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer – found that PSA testing reduced prostate cancer deaths by 21 per cent.
The organisation says it recommends men aged over 50, or those over 40 with a family history, speak to their doctor about their prostate cancer risk and testing options.
It says the preventive task force guidelines were “unhelpful”.
Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand president, Stephen Ruthven, urged men not to be deterred by the US report.
“We are very concerned this report will unnecessarily alarm men about what is currently the best available test for prostate cancer and as such is an important tool in detecting and treating potentially life-threatening tumours,” says Dr Ruthven.
He says the PSA test does not diagnose prostate cancer, but identifies men at risk who may need further investigation with a biopsy.
Dr Ruthven says not all cancers need treatment and some can be managed under surveillance.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and kills more than 3300 Australian and New Zealand men each year.