A recommendation from a national task force to get rid of PSAs to screen for prostate cancer has the CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada shaking his head.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care says PSAs (prostate specific antigen) are not effective screening tools because they often produce false-positive results that lead to unnecessary treatment
The task force says almost one-in-five men aged 55 to 69 have at least one false-positive PSA test. He says too many men end up having biopsies they don’t need as some tumours never become life-threatening.
Rocco Rossi with Prostate Cancer Canada says the test saves lives. He says it isn’t perfect, but it’s the only thing out there that has a chance of detecting this hard to diagnose cancer before it’s too late.
“Give us an alternative before you eliminate it because otherwise, the alternative is to turn the clock back 20 years. Twenty years ago, 40 per cent more men died of prostate cancer than today because we did not have an effective early detection tool. Effectively, what that would mean is 100 men, 1,000 fathers, brothers, sons, uncles in addition to the 4,000 who already would die this year, would die of prostate cancer because we would not catch it in the early stages.”
He says the task force used statistics from the United States, where over-treatment happens much more often.
“They go directly from the test to surgery or radiation, but Canada has been the leading jurisdiction, the pioneering jurisdiction in the world of what’s called active surveillance. We do the test but we understand that many prostate cancer tumors are slow growing. Men will die with prostate cancer, but not of prostate cancer.”