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
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force often finds itself in the news when determining what works and doesn’t work in screenings and preventive care. It told healthy women not to bother with calcium and vitamin D pills, said many women could wait on mammograms until age 50 and recently clarified who might benefit from regular lung cancer screening tests.
The task force’s work lies in translating medical evidence into clinical practice, which can be a difficult and contentious task. Its recommendations are often nuanced and misunderstood.
How does the group come to these determinations and how can you report on the science and not just the heat a recommendation generates? What is evidence-based medicine and how does the USPSTF use it to make recommendations on health care services? Continue reading