The Recommendation Against PSA Screening Ignores Black Men
There is a raging prostate cancer crisis in Black America where men are diagnosed with the disease at a rate 60% higher than all other men and die at a rate 140% higher. This is the largest racial disparity for any type of major cancer in the United States. Even with these unbelievably gloomy statistics progress has been made over the past 20 years as the overall prostate cancer death rate for Black men and for all men has declined by approximately 40%. Medical experts and the data collected over this period attribute this decline to an earlier detection and better treatment of the disease. The only test that is available today for early detection of prostate cancer is the PSA test.
The U. S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued this draft recommendation on October 7, 2011: ?The USPSTF recommends against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - based screening for prostate cancer. This is a grade D recommendation. This recommendation applies to men in the U.S. population who do not have symptoms that are highly suspicious for prostate cancer, regardless of age, race, or family history.?
If this recommendation is allowed to drive public health policy then the methods for detecting prostate cancer will be returned to those used prior to the PSA test. There is a history, and data, to know exactly what the outcomes will be; a majority of men will be diagnosed with metastatic incurable disease resulting in a higher death rate and increased suffering. The harshest impact will be on Black men and other men at high risk for the disease. However, the USPSTF is basing its recommendation primarily on data that does not include a statistically significant number of Black men.
The Prostate Health Education Network, Inc. (PHEN) hosted a live webcast on Wednesday, October 12th to explore the PSA screening debate and its impact on Black men. We assembled some of the leading medical experts to address this issue. I urge you to learn more about this debate by viewing this webcast which is available in its entirety on this website.
I am an eleven year prostate cancer survivor in good health today with no discernable side effects from my treatments. I have also witnessed the deaths of my father, both grandfathers and only brother-in-law from prostate cancer. I know the benefits of PSA testing and the horrible death that men experience from the disease. We cannot allow a public policy that would return us to the days of increased deaths and suffering ? we have a better option.
I am asking that all of PHEN partners, survivor members and those that care about men?s health to join me in taking action against the USPSTF recommendation. For the USPSTF to make a recommendation that ignores the very existence of the men most impacted by prostate cancer is an insult and irresponsible. Let your voices be heard on this issue! Email your U. S. Congressional leaders, and make your comments to the USPSTF (the link is available on this website).