The Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer believes that a cancer cannot be treated unless it is detected. Because Prostate Cancer is most treatable when detected early, we advocate baseline screening with a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) for most men at age 40.
In the last ten years in the U.S., deaths from prostate cancer have decreased somewhere between 30% and 40%. No other cancer has decreased by that significant amount. We attribute that to the fact that many physicians are routinely screening men with a PSA and DRE and more men are requesting it as part of their annual exams.
In Maine, this year more than 1,300 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 140 will die from it. Indeed, one in 6 men is at a lifetime risk of prostate cancer.
New guidelines being issued by the American Cancer Society are questioning the value of prostate cancer screening. It is true that the PSA blood test is an imperfect predictor of which cancers will be aggressive and which cancers might not require immediate treatment. New prostate cancer tests are under development that may be able to replace PSA test’s but in the meantime men need to use the best test currently available, the PSA.
The Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer, comprised of survivors and partners, believes that over-screening is not the problem. Over-treatment is. More in-depth counseling about treatment options (including active surveillance) is needed. Given a full range of resource materials and information about the advantages and disadvantages of all treatments we trust men to make good decisions for themselves.
Here is a review of the research on the screening controversy.
The Board of Directors of the Maine Coalition to Fight Prostate Cancer has sent letters to Dr. John R. Seffrin, Chief Executive Office of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society challenging their positions on prostate cancer screening. Members of the Board of Directors and of the Advisory Board have sent personal letters as well. Anyone wishing to express their displeasure with the stated position of the ACS may also do so. Letters may be mailed to either man at American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22538, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1538
Image licensed through Creative Commons – Lisa Brewster