ASCO Publishes Opinion Piece on the use of PSA in Screening for Prostate Cancer

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – More evidence is required to assess the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening methods, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which has written a provisional clinical opinion (PCO) for the purpose of offering “timely clinical direction to the ASCO membership after publication or presentation of potentially practice-changing data on the role of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in the screening of men for prostate cancer.” This conclusion is based on an article entitled “Screening for Prostate Cancer with Prostate-Specific Antigen Testing: American Society of Clinical Oncology Provisional Clinical Opinion,” which was published online July 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in response to the US Preventive Services Task Force's (USPSTF) May 2012 recommendations against the use of the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer.

Despite the fact that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States and that screening potentially reduces the risk of death from prostate cancer through early detection, the USPTF recommended against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer but not against the use of the PSA test for surveillance after diagnosis or treatment of prostate cancer.

In the current opinion piece, ASCO provides evidence from several clinical trials on the benefits of using PSA to screen for prostate cancer. The following results were reported in this PCO. “In one randomized trial, PSA testing in men who would not otherwise have been screened resulted in reduced death rates from prostate cancer, but it is uncertain whether the size of the effect was worth the harms associated with screening and subsequent unnecessary treatment,” the authors wrote. “Although there are limitations to the existing data, there is evidence to suggest that men with longer life expectancy may benefit from PSA testing.”

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