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Read Original Story

Urine test improves prostate diagnosis: study

Rating

3 Star

Urine test improves prostate diagnosis: study

Our Review Summary

 This story reported on a diagnostic test for prostate cancer, indicating how its use improved the ability to distinguish prostate cancer from other prostate issues.  Although it mentioned that the test has been approved for use in Europe since 2006 but not in the US, it didn’t tell us why.  Has the company not submitted it for approval here yet?  What, if any, concerns have been raised? 

 

Why This Matters

 Men may be concerned about overly enthusiastic diagnosis of prostate cancer and resulting treatment of disease that does not necessarily require active treatment in the lifetime of the man with the lesion.   In this story we heard a researcher’s enthusiasm about his own study results, but we really didn’t learn whether the test has been shown to have any impact on men’s decisions or their outcomes.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

 Although this product is used elsewhere in the world, there was no estimate of its cost.

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

Satisfactory

 The story reported on the specificity of this test as compared with test most commonly in use in the US.

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

Satisfactory

 The story did include sufficient information to conclude that with this test, there were still both false positive and false negative results.  There was, however, no discussion about whether this test had any role in helping men who really didn’t require treatment to avoid such treatment.

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

Not Satisfactory

 The information in the story comes from a study presented at the recent meeting of the American Urological Association.  The story described the sensitivity and specificity of this assay. It indicated the number of men with elevated PSA levels that were studied as well as the percentage that were found to have cancer, though it did not indicate anything about the stage of the cancer.  

But two key points were missing:

  1. The story should have at least mentioned that these results, presented at a scientific meeting, have not yet been peer reviewed.
  2. Because this test is already approved for use in Europe, there already exists a literature about it which was not mentioned in this piece.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

 The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

Only a single conflicted source was quoted: one of the principal investigators of the study reported on.  Considering this study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, it seems that there were many around who could have offered expert opinion and insight about this test.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

 The outcomes from this test were compared to that of the PSA test.  There could have been at least a line, however, about the many other tests currently being tested for their ability to diagnose and predict the future course of prostate cancer. For example, on the same day this study was presented at the American Urological Association meeting, at least one other study about another prostate test looking for increased levels of genetic material was presented at the same meeting. 

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

Satisfactory

 The story stated that this test is approved for use in Europe but not the US.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

 The story accurately reported that this test is used in Europe but is not approved for use in the US.  It would have been interesting for readers to hear some of the reasons why.

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

Not Applicable

 Not applicable.  We can’t be sure of the extent to which a news release may have influenced this story.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory

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