Fairfax, Va. – The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is disappointed with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) final recommendations against the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for prostate cancer and strongly cautions against a blanket no-testing policy. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and more than 33,000 men die each year from this disease. PSA-based screening is associated with the detection of more prostate cancers and many patients benefit from PSA screening.
The USPSTF recommends against PSA-based screening, indicating there is a moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits. ASTRO acknowledges that PSA screening isn’t a perfect method of detecting prostate cancer. However, many patients’ lives are saved by catching their prostate cancer early, and over the last 30 years we have achieved a 30 percent decline in the death rate from prostate cancer due in part to better screening.
“The problem with prostate cancer is not finding the cancer but in knowing when to treat and when not to treat,” Leonard L. Gunderson, MD, MS, FASTRO, ASTRO chairman, said. “The USPSTF is correct in addressing the issue of over screening but is wrong to take the option completely off the table.”
The decision to screen is a decision that ultimately should be made between the patient and the physician. It should be tailored around the patient’s medical history and known risk factors—something a physician is best equipped to do. Together, the patient and physician should use screening results to discuss all treatment options—including watchful waiting.
“We should be accurately explaining the risks and benefits and letting patients decide on such an important issue as this. The USPSTF recommendation is one-size-fits-all and our nation is made up of millions of men with individual views about prostate cancer and screening,” Howard Sandler, MD, MS, chairman of radiation oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and prostate expert, said.
ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.