PSA stands for “pretty sorry affair”

J. Douglas Bremner has a second post of interest today, this time is on the subject of PSA test for the prostate.

Quote from Dr. Bremner:

I have written before about the uselessness of screening for prostate cancer in the past, which brought on the vitriole of some of my fellow MD bloggers, some of whom had vested financial interests in the perpetuation of this looney practice. But now we have none other than the inventor of the Prostate Surface Antigen (PSA) test, Richard Ablin, coming out to say today in an editorial that it is not only useless, but a public health disaster. He points out that 16% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but only 3% will die of it. The PSA is used to drive men with mildly elevated values into the medical machine that will leave them with medical bills, possible impotence and urinary problems. In spite of this, PSA testing was not shown to save lives in a US study I wrote about last year here.

In the editorial he writes:

I never dreamed that my discovery four decades ago would lead to such a profit-driven public health disaster. The medical community must confront reality and stop the inappropriate use of P.S.A. screening. Doing so would save billions of dollars and rescue millions of men from unnecessary, debilitating treatments.

In the heat of the moment around healthcare reform maybe we should pay attention to this instead of Billy Tauzin’s whining? Anyone listening?


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