For decades, I’ve been presenting solid scientific evidence that routine screenings do more harm than good. Finally, recent studies have supported what I have been saying all along. For decades men have been urged to have their PSA level checked annually. These screening tests, which are supposed to detect cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages, are positioned as your best defense against this fearsome disease.
And for decades, I’ve been presenting solid scientific evidence to the contrary—that routine screening does more harm than good. Although I’ve taken a lot of heat for this unpopular position, there have been several recent developments that attest to its validity.
Men: Don’t Get PSA Tests
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new draft guidelines regarding PSA screening for prostate cancer for men of all ages. They graded this test with a D: “The USPSTF recommends against the service. There is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.”
Men, take this recommendation seriously! The Task Force, a conservative panel of mainstream medical experts, reviewed all the available research involving hundreds of thousands of men and concluded, “The common perception that PSA-based early detection of prostate cancer prolongs lives is not supported by the scientific evidence.”
Despite a huge increase in diagnoses and treatment, the prostate cancer death rate has not dropped significantly—proof that many of the cancers treated are small, localized tumors that, if left alone, would never cause illness, let alone death. And the treatments these men are unnecessarily subjected to have horrific adverse effects, including increased risk of impotence, urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction, and even death.
Don’t Buy the Hype
Since PSA testing became commonplace, more than a million men have been treated for prostate cancer—men who, if not for an elevated PSA test, would never have had surgery and/or radiation treatment. And most of them are convinced they’re alive because of this test.
Approximately four percent of Americans are now “cancer survivors,” and it’s understandable that many of them are ardent champions of screening. But the truth is the not-insignificant harms of false positives and needless biopsies, surgeries, and chemo and radiation therapy clearly outweigh the benefits of any PSA testing.
What Should You Do?
I want to make it clear that I’m telling you what I would do if I had prostate cancer. When we see a patient at Whitaker Wellness who has prostate cancer, we make recommendations to enhance his immune system, and if this happens to help overcome his cancer, we’re happy, and he’s ecstatic.
I cannot and will not tell you what to do if you have prostate cancer, but I can tell you that if you receive such a diagnosis, you must take charge of your health and carefully research all your options.