Both the local and national media are clamoring over it-it being a recommendation made from a government panel released last week that finds the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test used in detecting prostate cancer does more harm than good. From the desk of CBS Evening News to NBC’s The Today Show to our local Atlanta paper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, men are receiving loud, unclear messages about how to approach prostate care and health. In an effort to clear up the confusion over what has become a controversial debate, our Prostate Cancer Center at Saint Joseph’s Hospital Chairman, Rajesh Laungani, M.D. weighs in on the topic:
SAINT JOSEPH’S HOSPITAL OF ATLANTA STATEMENT REGARDING RECENT U.S. PREVENTATIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE (USPSTF) RULING ON PSA SCREENING:
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently issued a statement that said “a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer does not save lives, but results in needless medical procedures that have left tens of thousands of men impotent, incontinent of both.” The Urologists of the Prostate Cancer Center (PCC) at Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta, applaud the USPSTF for its interest in reviewing the PSA test, but we believe that this statement may ultimately do more harm then good. We at Saint Joseph’s Hospital follow the American Urological Associations (AUA) guidelines and current clinical recommendations which support the use of the PSA test. It is our belief, along with the AUA, that when interpreted appropriately, the PSA test can provide important information that can be used in the diagnosis, risk assessment and treatment of patients who may suffer from prostate cancer.
It is very true that not all prostate cancers require treatment and not all prostate cancers are life threatening. A decision to pursue treatment is one that men should discuss in great detail with their urologists. In many cases, active surveillance may be an appropriate option for management of prostate cancer thereby avoiding the morbidity associated with prostate cancer treatments.
At the present time, until a better test is developed to detect prostate cancer more accurately, we believe that the statement issued by the USPSTF will lead men astray regarding the importance of screening for prostate cancer. Our greatest fear is that this statement may ultimately influence insurance companies, which will result in denial of coverage of this vital health screening.
Rajesh G. Laungani, M.D.
Dr. Laungani is a fellowship trained urologist, specializing in minimally-invasive and robotic urology. He serves as the Director of Robotic Urology for Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and is Chairman of the Prostate Cancer Center at Saint Joseph’s, a national “best practice” model for comprehensive prostate cancer care. He serves as Medical Director of the Prostate Cancer Center’s monthly Genitourinary Tumor Board Conference and is a frequent case presenter.