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Read Original Story

Screening Prostates at Any Age

Rating

4 Star

Screening Prostates at Any Age

Our Review Summary

This was a well-written, informative story that identifies the challenges to implementing a rational approach to prostate cancer screening.

But we thought the two closing patient profiles – the only patients profiled in the piece – wrapped up the story in an imbalanced way.

 

Why This Matters

This is a useful piece to help readers understand the notion that testing is not an isolated intervention and that thinking ahead can be helpful in having medical care that matches one’s personal values and interests.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of costs, either in terms of the actual dollar value involved in routine PSA testing or for follow-up biopsy and treatment.

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

Satisfactory

The story did mention a “National Cancer Institute study of 76,000 men that failed to find a screening benefit after 10 years”

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

Satisfactory

The article does address the harms of overdiagnosis and treatment, though does not provide quantitative data. We’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story did not actually provide readers with much information about the particular study it was reporting on.  While it did have numerous insightful comments from experts in the field, it was rather vague about the study design. It was worth noting that it was a survey study, so people self-reported their PSA testing activity.  That’s always a limitation.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There was no disease-mongering in this piece.

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

Satisfactory

Numerous independent sources without ties to the study reported on were quoted as part of this story.

One thing that does concern us is the way the piece ended.  The story profiled two men – and both choose to be screened.One recently found a small cancer, and is thinking of “having the whole thing taken out.”  Why was there no balancing profile of a man who chooses not to be screened?

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story presented information about the impact of being tested for prostate cancer using the PSA test versus not having the test.  It was especially clear about the idea that a life expectancy of 10 years as a man thinks about potential benefit.

But, again, the option of not being screened wasn’t reflected in the patients profiled in the piece.

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

Satisfactory

It’s clear from the story that ‘routine’ PSA testing is readily available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was clear that PSA testing is readily available and routinely used by the percentages of men indicated in the story.

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

Satisfactory

Does not rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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