African American Men Should Ignore the Recent U. S. Preventive Services PSA Test Recommendation

By: Thomas A. Farrington

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I have been in Atlanta the past few days attending the American Urological Association's (AUA) Annual Conference. Today we heard from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that it had ignored the voices of prostate cancer specialist, patients and patient advocacy organizations and that it was dancing to its own music by issuing a final "D" recommendation for the PSA test.

This recommendation is against the routine use of the PSA test for the early detection of prostate cancer. Since the draft recommendation issued by the USPSTF in October 2011, I have communicated PHEN's opposition against the draft "D" recommendation. We stand firmly against this final recommendation and with the other organizations, and certain government agencies, that the PSA test saves lives.

In a "Town Hall Meeting" held at the conference today that included a representative of the USPSTF, it was clear that any argument made in opposition to the USPSTF recommendation was simply ignored by it. The moderator asked for a show of hands of those that disagreed with the USPSTF's position and nearly all hands were raised. At the heart of the "scientific evidence" used by the USPSTF to render its recommendation is the PLCO study. However, the leader of this study who participated on the panel for the Town hall meeting has consistently stated his opposition to the conclusion that the USPSTF drew from this study.

As I have pointed out since the PLCO study was released, African American men are not included in this study at a significant enough level that would allow the USPSTF to draw a conclusion on the effectiveness of the PSA test for Black men. However, the USPSTF has simply ignored this lack of data and included African American men and other high risk men in its "D" recommendation. With its "D" recommendation, the USPSTF has issued a death sentence to those men that will need early detection of aggressive prostate cancer but will ignore their prostate health based on this recommendation.

PHEN will continue to focus on educating African American men about their prostate health and the importance of early detection of cancer. With a death rate 140% higher than other men, Black men cannot simply ignore the killer within that is prostate cancer. PHEN will not be alone in its efforts as all of the organizations that focus on prostate cancer prevention, education and research, that I have spoken with, disagree with the USPSTF's recommendation.

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