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U.S. Panel Questions Prostate Screening


5 Star

U.S. Panel Questions Prostate Screening

Our Review Summary

This story describes the newly released recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on the utility of routine PSA testing.  It highlighted the importance of the new recommendation, namely that the task force indicated that routine testing of men older than 75 resulted in little to no benefit.  The story attempted to provide a picture for the reader of reasons for the ambiguity about routine prostate cancer screening and the important trade-off between common side effects and treatment of a disease that often is not problematic. It included quotes from experts who had different opinions about how to consider the risks and benefits of routine testing for, and various treatment of, prostate cancer.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

There was no discussion of the costs associated with prostate cancer screening.  However, as the cessation of routine prostate cancer screening for men over the age of 75 was the new recommendation by the task force, cost is not really germane to the discussion.

It might have been helpful to include some mention of the potential costs to screening older men and/or cost saving with cessation of screening older men.  There are those that are going to interpret the recommendation against routine screening as a cost saving effort. 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story outlined for readers that the benefits of routine screening for prostate cancer are uncertain.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


Without quantifying the frequency, the story mentioned the common side effects of treatment for prostate cancer.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story attempted to explain the conundrum of prostate cancer, prostate cancer treatment, and routine prostate cancer screening.  It included numbers indicating that the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is far in excess of the number who die of prostate cancer.  


Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in overt disease mongering. It put the natural history of most prostate cancers into appropriate context.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story included comments from a number of individuals with relevant expertise.  The story did not do an adequate job of indicating whether those quoted served on the recommendation task force other than for Ned Calonge, who was mentioned as chair of the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story was about the new recommendation regarding routine screening of men older than 75 years of age with PSA test;  the story presented arguments for and against the use of the test.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story mentioned that it was about routine screening of men for prostate cancer.  As the story lead with "The blood test that millions of men undergo each year", it accurately indicated that this test is readily available.


Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story was reporting on the release of new guidelines from the US Preventive Services task force, and highlighted that these recommendations differ from the previous version in that they specify that the benefit of routine screening of men older than 75 years of age for prostate cancer is little to none while at the same time, the harms are moderate-to-substantial.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Does not  rely exclusively on a press release as it includes numerous quotes from a variety of experts with differing view points.

Total Score: 9 of 9 Satisfactory


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