Well … This isn’t going to make too many prostate cancer survivors happy (or too many urologists either). And it may even affect where they all go to get reliable information on their next television or washer/dryer combo!
Yesterday the well known Consumer Reports (a publication of the Consumers Union, a “public watchdog” organization) published an article entitled “Overselling cancer tests” on the value of a number of different cancer screening tests. The use of an annual PSA screening test for risk of prostate cancer didn’t make the cut!
You have to be a subscriber to Consumer Reports to read the full report. However, you can get the gist of their view of the available data from any number of other online news reports issued late yesterday or early today. Here is a brief list of some of the links:
- “Consumer reports tackles cancer screening tests” on the ABC News web site
- “Consumer Reports’ cancer screening ratings offer surprising results” on the MSN web site
- “Which cancer screenings should you skip? Consumer Reports weighs in” on Boston.com (the web site of The Boston Globe)
Of course the other way to look at this is to say to oneself that if you have been trusting Consumer Reports regarding things like cars, dishwashers, and laptop computers for the past 10 or 20 years, you may want to listen to them now too. They are not saying that the PSA test is useless. They are saying that it has to be used thoughtfully and carefully.