ANCHOR LEAD: TWO NEW STUDIES QUESTION THE VALUE OF PSA SCREENING. ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Should men be screened for prostate cancer using PSA, prostate specific antigen? Two new studies question the validity of this approach, showing at best a modest impact on preventing prostate cancer deaths. Ballantine Carter, a prostate cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, says the wholesale use of PSA developed over time and required more than just a practical screening test.
CARTER: You also have to prove that there’s more benefit than harm, and that’s what happened with PSA screening. We had the test, it was very, very clear that it would lead to early detection, but what wasn’t clear was the balance of benefit and harm, and that’s what the US Preventive Services Task Force was alluding to when they came out with their latest statement about prostate cancer screening. They came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough evidence to assess the balance of benefit and harm, and that patients should be very aware of this uncertainty before they agree to be screened. :31
Carter says men should question their primary care physicians about the pros and cons of screening . At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.