New draft recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on prostate cancer screening for men age 55 to 69 create as much confusion as clarity.
The group now says that healthy men younger than 70 with no signs of prostate cancer should “no longer be discouraged” from checking their PSA levels. They essentially punted the decision to the individual, proposing that men determine with their doctors whether and when to undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. Is this a good thing for medicine? It depends on perspective, and perhaps the doctor’s specialty. Continue reading
Robotic surgery has exploded in popularity in recent years, but is that because it actually improves patient outcomes over traditional surgery methods or because of marketing campaigns? That is one of the questions Laura Beil dove into in her award-winning story for Men’s Health, “What’s Wrong With Robotic Surgery?”
In a story that involved months of reporting, Beil “used FDA and legal documents to explore concerns over the safety” of a prostate robotic surgery procedure and wove together her findings “into one concise narrative that engaged and informed Men’s Health readers.”
The reporting required FOI requests for adverse events from surgery (along with documents related to recent inspections and findings), legal documents from malpractice lawsuits and a class action suit against the manufacturer, and dozens of scientific studies to determine whether robotic surgery represented an advance in treatment.
Beil also describes the pushback after publication, adding that posting corporate responses online is a powerful way to expose unjustified pushback. Read about how she did her reporting.
Two U.S. senators have proposed a bill to support research into prostate cancer, calling for “a national strategy to combat prostate cancer.”
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have introduced the National Prostate Cancer Council Act, which would establish a body made up of federal agencies, patients, and medical experts. It would coordinate prostate cancer research and services across all federal agencies.
In a press release announcing the legislation, Sessions said, “Testing and early detection are the keys to combat this disease. When identified early, the survival rate for prostate cancer is very high. We need to ensure that we have the most advanced screening tools available and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer and 29,480 deaths in the U.S. this year. Continue reading
Gary Schwitzer, professor at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication and publisher of HealthNewsReview.org, writes about the Roswell Park Cancer Institute‘s promotion of its “Prostate Club for Men,” complete with prizes for men who discuss screening.
As Schwitzer points out, there is no mention of the potential harms of prostate cancer treatment or the fact that some prostate cancers grow so slowly that they never produce symptoms or become life threatening. Instead, the club says the screening is “quick and simple, and it could save your life.”
The club’s Web site even carries a message from a local anchorman urging men to be screened for prostate cancer, again, with nothing about potential harms.