Another Blow for Preventive Medicine

This is from an article by Gina Kolata of the New York Times:

The P.S.A. blood test, the popular screening test for prostate cancer, saves few if any lives and exposes large numbers of men to risky and unnecessary treatment…..

The European….. studies found that screening was associated with a 20 percent relative reduction in the prostate cancer death rate. [link; gated, but with abstract.] But the number of lives saved was small: 7 fewer prostate cancer deaths for every 10,000 men screened and followed for nine years…..

The American study….. found no reduction in deaths from prostate cancer after most of the men had been followed for 10 years. [link; gated, but with abstract.]

The reason screening saved so few lives, cancer experts say, is that prostate cancers often grow very slowly, if at all, and most never endanger a man if left alone…..

Mammography has about the same effect as the P.S.A. test.

Comments (4)

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  1. Bret says:

    Interesting. But mainly because preventive medicine has become a religion for a large number of people.

  2. Vicki says:

    Gina Kolata is always good. Especially at puncturing religious myths.

  3. Nancy says:

    That last sentence looks as if it was added as an after thought. But it delivers quite a wallop. Can you tell us more?

  4. Sara Mackey says:

    There is not enough science involved in this. Things need to be done based on science more than the bottom line which is partially due to government involvement: the private firms must get the money back they lose due to the fact that medicare and medicaid poorly reimburse them.