Why the government’s backpedaling on PSA — again

Here we go again…

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is getting ready to update their recommendation on prostate cancer screening. And surprise! It turns out that their previous advice to ditch the PSA test was ill-advised.

Not that this is the first time something like this has happened. (Which is exactly why I ignored their guidelines in the first place.) It never ceases amaze me how the baby gets thrown out with the bath water when it comes to medical recommendations.

You may recall the study that triggered the USPSTF to turn on the PSA test several years ago. The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 2009. And it showed no difference in mortality rates between men who received PSA screening and those who didn’t.

These results were a real lynchpin against PSA screening for the USPSTF. Trouble is, we’re now finding out that they were just plain wrong.

Researchers have since reanalyzed the data. And further scrutiny has revealed that the control group in this trial included men who had already received PSA testing. In fact, the rate of PSA screening turned out to be even higher in the “unscreened” group, than in the screened group.

In other words, this “control group” wasn’t really controlled at all. Which means that any results regarding the benefits of PSA testing are essentially meaningless. And worse, that the USPTF drew its conclusions without even studying the data.

Now what does that tell you?

This misguided recommendation against routine PSA testing was just another example of the government butting its head into things it shouldn’t.

And as a result, PSA screening has plummeted nationwide. Fewer prostate cancers are being diagnosed. And more and more doctors are starting to believe that screening for the disease just isn’t a big deal.

All this, despite the fact that the science clearly demonstrates that routine PSA screening saves men’s lives.

As I’ve explained before, unlike some other cancer screenings, the PSA test itself isn’t dangerous. (Quite the opposite, in fact.)

So instead of ditching it, how about we finally shift our focus to the real issue: Doctors over-treating and mutilating millions of men based on uncertain PSA results.

Here’s the bottom line: You absolutely should get screened for prostate cancer — and I recommend routine PSA testing.

Whether or not you should undergo the barbaric treatments that are currently recommended for prostate cancer is another story altogether. (One that I covered in detail back in the September 2014 issue of my monthly newsletter Logical Health Alternatives. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can access that article by signing up today.)

The fact is, most men with prostate cancer don’t need extreme interventions. But the PSA test is — and always has been — one potentially life-saving piece of the puzzle when it comes to figuring out where you happen to stand.