In early May, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) finalized its new prostate cancer screening recommendation, which upgrades its recommendation for men 55 – 69 years old to a C rating. While the updated rating is a step forward, many say it’s not enough. The decade-long message that discouraged men from getting tested has led to an unprecedented increase in prostate cancer deaths this year – an anticipated 10 percent jump, according to the National Cancer Institute. The previous recommendation deterred men from a simple blood test and was a barrier to early detection (which would have saved countless lives).
“The fact is 99 percent survive prostate cancer when it’s caught early,” according to Jamie Bearse, CEO of ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. “Left unchecked, survival rates plummet to 30 percent if prostate cancer is found in an advanced stage. Unfortunately, the C rating is still insufficient and dangerous for high-risk men or men who – without testing – will develop unchecked aggressive or advanced disease.”
The new rating from the USPSTF stipulates that with regard to the prostate-specific antigen blood test (PSA), there is “at least a moderate certainty that the net benefit is small”. The previous D rating – which remains in place for men 70 and over – labeled the PSA test as doing “more harm than good,” and strongly discourages physicians from using the test for men at risk for the disease. At ZERO, we meet active and vibrant men 70 and older leading amazingly impactful lives. We believe these men deserve to know their PSA levels and make an informed, personal decision about options should they develop the disease.
“We need to make sure men know that PSA testing leads to a life-saving diagnosis,” Bearse said. “We’re hearing about advancements in screening and diagnostic tools every time a medical journal publishes a new issue. The technology exists to put men with aggressive disease on the right treatment pathway while not harming those with indolent tumors.”