Schwitzer: One-sided push for screening wrong

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On his Schwitzer health news blog, University of Minnesota journalism professor, HealthNewsReview.org editor and AHCJ member Gary Schwitzer reminds journalists – in particular, CNN’s Howard Kurtz and Larry King – that even when you’re talking to prostate cancer survivors about screening for the disease, it’s “wrong to use a network television platform to give one-sided advice to an entire population of men without giving balancing information on harms.”

Reminding journalists that PSA screening might not always be a good thing, Schwitzer quotes the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force:

Potential harms from PSA screening include additional medical visits, adverse effects of prostate biopsies, anxiety, and overdiagnosis (the identification of prostate cancer that would never have caused symptoms in the patient’s lifetime, leading to unnecessary treatment and associated adverse effects). Much uncertainty surrounds which cases of prostate cancer require treatment and whether earlier detection leads to improvements in duration or quality of life.

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