Prostate Screening's Dark Side: USA Today is featuring the stories of men who were harmed by prostate cancer screenings. Prostate cancer screenings have been big news lately, following the U.S. Preventative Services' Task Force recommendation that all healthy men forgo routine PSA blood tests(the tests used to screen for prostate cancer) because they do more harm than good.
Terry Dyroff's PSA blood test led to a prostate biopsy that didn't find cancer but gave him a life-threatening infection. [...] Donald Weaver was a healthy 74-year-old Kansas farmer until doctors went looking for prostate cancer. A PSA test led to a biopsy and surgery, then a heart attack, organ failure and a coma. His grief-stricken wife took him off life support. "He died of unnecessary preventive medicine," said his nephew, Dr. Jay Siwek, vice chairman of family medicine at Georgetown University. "Blood tests can kill you."
The harm comes not from the test itself, but from everything it triggers-biopsies that are often for false alarms, treatment of prostate cancers (and the impotence, incontinence and other problems associated with treatment) that would never have really become a threat.
While routine PSA testing is still supported by some advocacy group, urologists, and doctors ( and Newt Gingrich), it's not endorsed by any major scientific groups, the American Cancer Society or the federal government.
Thursday Quick Hits:
- Do naked mole rats' genes hold the key to human longevity?
- Shoppers find layaway back in vogue (and that's probably not a good thing).
- Fewer people in debt are seeking debt counseling or other finance help.
- Hospitals and health care systems are using their purchasing power to push for more environmentally-friendly medical products made with safer chemicals.
- Caregiving takes a toll on your health-but there are hidden benefits, too.
- And were it not for the aging population, this country's drop in home-ownership rates would have been even steeper, Fannie Mae reports.
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( Photo: J.C. Leacock/Aurora Photos)