Let's hope there isn't political pressure on prostate CA screening recommendations

Something doesn’t smell right about the announcement that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force cancelled its November meeting – a meeting at which a new vote was to be taken on prostate cancer screening recommendations. I’ve been assured by some who are very close to the process that there’s nothing fishy – that it was just a matter of scheduling. But it’s been suggested to me by others who are close to the process that scheduling was not the issue – and that there is, indeed, reason for suspicion.

I’m slow to conjure up goblins or boogeymen – even at this time of year. But I inherited some fairly strong (and often frightfully accurate) intuition from my 88-year old Irish mother, and my antennae are up on this one.

Katherine Hobson broke the ice on the issue on her Wall Street Journal Health blog today. Excerpts:

“As you may remember, it was also November that the USPSTF published its updated recommendations for breast-cancer screening, which quickly got caught up in the political maelstrom surrounding health-care-overhaul. The panel wasn’t prepared for the controversy created by its recommendation that women aged 40-49 who are at average risk of breast cancer should discuss the benefits and risks of screening with a physician rather than getting it as a matter of course.

(The task force chairman) had no comment on whether the timing of the November meeting — overlapping with Election Day — played any role at all in its cancellation, though the group’s decision wouldn’t have been publicized for a while in any case.”

Thanks to Hobson for breaking this story.

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Comments (2)

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Michael Kirsch, M.D.

October 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

Prostate cancer screening with the reflexively ordered PSA violates the fundamental precept of medicine to do no harm. It harms plenty and it helps few. This is not news. The sorry performance of this screening test has been known for decades. Yet, its adherents defend it passionately, leaping over the solid evidence that shows it to be a failed and dangerous strategy. See http://bit.ly/9mJ2l