The recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, being made public recently, will not come as a surprise to cancer specialists. The assumption has always been that finding cancer early is always a good thing. “Not so“, said Dr. Virginia Moyer of the Baylor College of Medicine, who heads the task force. “We have put a huge amount of time, effort and energy into PSA screening and that time, effort and energy, that passion, should be going into finding a better test instead of using a test that doesn’t work.“
The task force analyzed all the previous research on this subject, including five major studies, to evaluate whether routine screening reduces deaths from prostate cancer. The conclusion: There’s little if any mortality benefit. “But there is harm from routine screening: impotence, incontinence, infections, even death that can come from the biopsies, surgery and radiation.” One study estimated that 40% of the men whose prostate cancer was caught through a PSA test had tumors too slow-growing to ever be a threat.