Health, Pain

Now They’re Saying Yes To Prostate Testing

OK, after years of going back and forth on the merits of PSA tests, experts are once again suggesting that they’re a good idea, maybe. The New York Times reports that the recent change of mind is based largely on a European study that found a slightly smaller number of deaths as well as fewer cases of cancer spreading among men who were screened, compared with those receiving the usual care. But are the numbers really persuasive? The Times writes that results suggest that of every 1,000 men offered PSA screening, 240 will receive a positive result that may indicate prostate cancer and be referred for a biopsy. Only 100 will get a positive biopsy result showing cancer; others who have false positives may still suffer side effects or harm from the biopsy. Wait, there’s more. Of the 100 found to have cancer, 80 will have treatment like surgery and radiation, and 60 will experience complications, even though up to half of those men will have a cancer that never grows, spreads or becomes life-threatening. But over the course of 10 to 15 years, three cancers will be prevented from spreading, and one to two deaths of prostate cancer will be prevented. That’s all. So yes, talk to your doctor, and maybe two or three other doctors.

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