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Patient Advocacy Groups Urge Congress to Act on Prostate Cancer Screening Bill, Revise Harmful USPSTF Recommendation
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, September 13 patient advocacy groups lead by the Men’s Health Network (MHN) and the Foundation for Breast and Prostate Health (FBPH), urged congressional support of the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1151) and are seeking a reversal of the Task Force’s recommendation against early detection screening for prostate cancer.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who introduced the bill, spoke on the importance of greater transparency within USPSTF during the Capitol Hill briefing hosted by MHN and the FBPH in collaboration with Congressional Men’s Health Caucus.
“We are requiring accountability, transparency, and making certain that people who are a specialist within an area are serving on those Task Forces,” Blackburn said. “This is vitally important that we approach changing the composition [of USPSTF] and also transparency through the rulemaking process.”
The USPSTF is currently reconsidering its 2012 “D” rating for the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in the early detection of prostate cancer, which means the Task Force currently recommends against the screening. The proposed legislation would require a more open and transparent review process by requiring the USPSTF to publish research plans, make evidence reports available for public comment, and seek input from preventative services stakeholders. The legislation requires that the Task Force coordinate efforts with other federal agencies when creating research plans and would also establish a panel of patient advocates and experts to advise the Task Force.
Patient advocate groups are pushing back against the USPSTF’s recommendation, which relies on an inadequate and deeply flawed decision-making process and recommends against the use of PSA testing in healthy men that “do not have symptoms that are highly suspicious for prostate cancer.” The recommendation remains despite strong evidence that the use of the PSA test saves lives.
“PSA-based prostate cancer screening has greatly altered the way that we diagnose and treat prostate cancer,” said Dr. Deepak Kapoor, MD, Chairman and CEO of New York-based Integrated Medical Professionals. “The USPSTF, through a flawed and nontransparent process, issued a one-size-fits-all grade “D” recommendation that recommended that no one should get a PSA done. We’re seeing fewer diagnoses of cancer and an increase in the incidents of higher-grade less treatable disease. The USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act will reform the process to ensure the American public will get access to vital life-saving screenings.”
A "D" grade is defined as “moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit, or that the harms outweigh the benefits.” This means that the USPSTF believes men should only be tested for prostate cancer using the PSA after they display symptoms of possible prostate cancer, meaning the cancer has spread and the prospects for a cure are remote.
In addition to adequate screening processes, advocates also stressed the need for thorough protocol in prostate diagnosis. More than 800,000 prostate biopsies are performed on men each year, roughly 2.5 percent on those biopsies result in misdiagnosis due to specimen provenance. The Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Elimination Act (H.R. 5763) which calls on expanding diagnostic procedures in prostate screenings.
“The wrong patient can get the wrong diagnosis and be administered the wrong treatment,” said Dr. Peter Knapp, MD, co-founder and Director of the Indiana-based Strand Diagnostics. “Medicare will incur $539 million in unnecessary treatment cost over the next 10 years due to specimen provenance complications from prostate cancer patients alone.”
About Men’s Health Network
Men's Health Network (MHN) is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray with health awareness messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. Learn more about MHN at www.menshealthnetwork.org and follow them on Twitter @MensHlthNetwork and Facebook at www.facebook.com/menshealthnetwork. For more information on MHN's ongoing Dialogue on Men's Health series, visit www.dialogueonmenshealth.com