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Health Watch: Government Panel Recommends Against Routine Prostate Screening

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Anger and confusion following a new government recommendation that healthy men should not be routinely screened for prostate cancer. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on the heated reaction.

Doctors offices are bracing for an increased number of phone calls from patients with questions about this new recommendation that says PSA blood tests do more harm than good, and aren’t necessary for healthy men.

56-year-old Michael Mitarotonda credits a PSA test for saving his life. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, he had surgery.

“I had a very successful outcome, and I’m happy where I’m at,” said Michael.

“I’m concerned that we’re going to end up missing a lot of men with curable prostate cancer,” said Dr. Joseph Izes, a Urologist with Abington Memorial Hospital’s Prostate Evaluation Program. He strongly disagrees with the new recommendation that healthy men shouldn’t be routinely screened for prostate cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says prostate cancer is slow growing, and not always deadly. But the treatments often leave men incontinent and impotent. They say those risks outweigh any benefits of early detection that comes with a PSA test, which itself isn’t always so reliable.

“The PSA is not a perfect blood test, and we keep looking for something better, but until we have that this is our only tool for detecting early stage prostate cancer,” said Dr. Izes.

But most major medical groups only recommend screenings for men with symptoms or at high risk.

Even with the new recommendation, Dr. Izes says he’ll be advising younger men especially to get screened.

“We have to individualize. I think we should use it intelligently. I think we should refine our surgical techniques as we have to improve potency, improve continence,” said Dr. Izes.

This is the same panel that triggered a firestorm of controversy in 2009 when it raised questions about routine mammography for breast cancer.

RELATED LINKS:

Prostate Cancer Information
Abington Memorial Hospital’s Prostate Evaluation Program

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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