A Study Questions Blood-Test Results on Prostate Cancer

A Study Questions Blood-Test Results on Prostate Cancer

News and Commentary
A Study Questions Blood-Test Results on Prostate Cancer - Significant numbers of older men whose results on a popular screening test for prostate cancer are normal may nonetheless have cancer. [New York Times Healthcare News]

This New York Times article reminds us that we have to be careful how we interpret cancer screening results. Early detection of cancer can lead to unnecessary interventions. The study showed that 15% of men with PSAs below 4 had cancer. The study could lead some doctors and patients to conclude that a biopsy makes sense, even with low PSA. However, the article also says:

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine for the Department of Veterans Affairs and at Dartmouth, said the new study should make men reconsider whether they want a P.S.A. test at all…the more pathologists look for cancer, the more they find it, but that this does not mean the cancer is worth finding.

Health plans and Medicaid programs need to be careful about which preventive screening rates they use to measure quality and evaluate their providers. Providing more Mammograms and PSA tests could actually reduce quality of care and should not be used as measures of success. According to