NEW YORK, NY (Marketwire – Jan 25, 2012)
The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) maintains their claim that prostate cancer death rates are unaffected by routine PSA tests, releasing longer follow-up results for their now 13-year study in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In 2011, their initially published data was the impetus for the controversial anti-PSA test recommendations made by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.
Robotic surgeon, Dr. David Samadi, expressed concern then about the potential fallout of the task force’s generalizations, and continues this year with determined effort in support of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, currently the only prostate cancer screening tool. “Few specialists deny the need for improved prostate cancer screening,” he said, “but the PSA test is a proven, effective prostate cancer diagnostic tool.”
The PLCO claims prostate cancer deaths are not reduced by widespread, annual PSA screenings. These findings are in stark contrast to European studies, which support the mortality benefits of the test. In particular, researchers in Sweden conducted a prostate cancer trial, over a 14-year period and found a 20 percent reduction in prostate cancer deaths through routine PSA testing.
Dr. Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, like many in his field, believes the PLCO data is flawed. “The study was intended to evaluate the effectiveness of the PSA by dividing a population of men into two groups — those who had routine PSA tests and those who did not. In reality, half the control group, those who were not supposed to be tested, actually did undergo intermittent screening,” Dr. Samadi pointed out.
Further, Dr. Samadi clarifies there can never be a direct correlation between screening for a disease and curing that disease. “They’re jumping from A to Z,” he says, “without taking into account the hours, weeks, and months that prostate cancer patients spend with their doctors and families analyzing risk factors, weighing treatment decisions, and fighting the cancer. Those are all variables.” As such, Dr. Samadi believes the true benefit of the PSA test is the opportunity it provides.
“Diagnosis through the PSA gives men the chance to beat prostate cancer, but it doesn’t hand them a cure,” Dr. Samadi reminded. Prostate cancer is a challenging disease for men and their physicians as it can present with virtually no symptoms and progress at an unpredictable rate. Some prostate cancers are slow growing and cause no significant impact, while others silently and quickly spread to the point of metastasis. The aggressiveness of a man’s prostate cancer is not definitively known at the time of diagnosis, leaving men to weigh the risks of the disease with the risks of treatment. Erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence are among the top treatment concerns.
“Beyond treatment modality,” adds Dr. Samadi, “the expertise of the specialist plays a leading role in treatment outcomes. With robotic prostatectomy, in particular, a man’s success in overcoming prostate cancer and maintaining quality of life, hinges on the experience and skill of his surgeon.”
While research surrounding the PSA test will undoubtedly continue, Dr. Samadi and many of his colleagues believe efforts should be refocused on improving the test, rather than abandoning it. “The PSA test reduces the amount of men forced to accept an aggressive prostate cancer diagnosis. To me, that indicates success,” he concluded.Press Release