Information on Prostate Supplements and PSA Testing

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) publishes a highly recommended e mail periodical entitled NewsPulse to which one can subscribe.  The October issue contained two articles which I will simply summarize and link.

The first article concluded that popular prostate supplements such as those containing saw palmetto do not benefit prostate cancer patients.  They do not decrease the risk of spread of localized disease, affect survival or lower the risk of side effects from radiation therapy.  The supplements offered no benefits related to prostate cancer outcomes.  However, it should be noted that the article did not address the issue of prostate cancer prevention.  The subjects in the study were all prostate cancer patients.  As an editorial note, I would not include pomegranate  extract in this group of supplements as some positive effects on prostate cancer and PSA doubling time have been observed with the extract (see April 4th, 2011 blog post).

The second article cited a study concerning the effects of the relaxed PSA testing guidelines issued in 2011 by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.  The current study results indicated that such relaxed screening may delay the diagnosis and treatment of aggressive prostate cancers.  Men who could have been eligible for treatment and perhaps cured of more advanced prostate disease may be diagnosed too late.  Since 2011, PSA screening has decreased by 28%.  The 2011 guidelines did have a positive effect in that diagnoses of new, low-risk cancers dropped by 38%.  However, researchers also found a drop of 28% in diagnoses of intermediate-risk cancer and a 23% drop in diagnoses of high-risk cancer one year after the guidelines were published.  These finding were consistent with what the researchers hoped would not happen.  They concluded that “men will develop more advanced prostate cancer before it is diagnosed and be less likely to be cured.”

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