Editorial critical of USPSTF’s PSA recommendation

In an editorial, USA Today criticizes the new guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on PSA screening. USA Today asks, “Aren’t patients better advised to get the facts first and then the counseling if needed, rather than being discouraged from finding out whether they have cancer in the first place?” USPSTF’s “approach seems based on the theory that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Well, it can.”

In an opposing viewpoint in USA Today, Dr. Virginia A. Moyer, USPSTF chair, writes, “Amid the many messages you are hearing and reading about screening for prostate cancer, I hope this one stands out most prominently: At best, there is a very small potential benefit from the PSA test and there are substantial known harms.” Thus, “Until we improve the test and treatment options, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening for prostate cancer.”

According to Moyer, the task force’s “decision is based on science and the knowledge that while we all want to prevent prostate cancer deaths, current PSA screening and treatments for prostate cancer are not the answer.”

CQ reports, “The US Preventive Services Task Force may have issued a controversial final recommendation against routine prostate cancer screening for men, but the move appears unlikely to affect Medicare coverage — at least in the short term.”

CQ adds, “In letters to members of Congress in February, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that ‘while the department has discretion to modify or eliminate coverage for the PSA test based on the Task Force’s recommendation, I do not intend to eliminate coverage of this screening test under Medicare at this time.'” Furthermore, “A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman said  that the secretary’s statement stands.”

 

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