Recommendation: Routine PSA Screening To Go the Way of the T-Rex : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Tuesday May 22 | BY |
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t-rex
Extinct: 2012. RIP Routine PSA Screening.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force has just issued their final recommendation on the PSA (prostate) screening test…

Their conclusion?

A recommendation against routine PSA exams for men of any age.

What they’ve found is that only one out of every 1000 men would benefit from this type of exam and the treatment recommended after elevated numbers are found.

The one of the reasons why they’ve come to this conclusion is because most prostate cancer is diagnosed for older men who are more likely to die from other illnesses before they do of prostate cancer.

Here are some other stats that are similar:

The American Cancer Society finds that 91% of all men with prostate cancer will live for 15 years beyond diagnosis. According to the National Cancer Institute, 70% of prostate cancer deaths occur after age 75.

So even if they do die prostate cancer, it’s well into their 70’s.

The findings of the task force also reflect what many people have concluded about prostate cancer treatment — the risks are much greater than the rewards.

An editorial written by Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society (yes, that ACS), explains the exact damage this type of treatment does…

These two decades of mass screening are estimated to have caused more than 1 million American men to receive unnecessary treatment causing numerous common side effects, including radiation-induced bowel injury, urinary incontinence and impotence, and a significant proportion have serious, life-threatening complications.

A win for the good guys…

All this news is good news for those of us who care about being proactive about our health.

Assuming doctors around the country embrace these numbers — which they should — there will be less screening and less treatment.

I personally know one family member who’s gone through unnecessary prostate treatment. He still suffers from side effects and radiation damage to the region that was treated. There, of course, is no indication that this treatment helped slow the growth of the cancer, but there are lingering negative effects from the radiation itself that cause regular discomfort — when there was none before.

The doctors in this case may not have done him any good.

Read between the lines — risk of radiation is higher than risk of prostate cancer.

The most groundbreaking news from this release of data is that organizations are starting to think the right way.

In order for a recommendation like this to even germinate, the right questions needed to be asked.

In this case, the most evident are these:

Do patients with high PSA get better after treatment?

Does this type of treatment benefit or hurt the patient?

These types of questions are asked by someone who is thinking about the patient — and that is very good news.

Hopefully, this type of finding will allow us to begin questioning other types of unnecessary treatments and screenings. Questions a run-of-the-mill oncologist could ask themselves — like, “do I need to recommend chemotherapy and radiation to everyone who comes into my office?”

Not everyone is supporting this data…

As you know, there will always be those who never seem to change. CNN reports…

However, the American Urological Association is not changing its stance on the PSA test. “We at the AUA still recommend the PSA, with its imperfections,” said Dr. Chris Amling. “It’s the wrong thing to deny a man if he wants to have this test.”

Can’t teach an old Association new tricks.

Insight the insightful don’t want to know…

Finally, here’s some eerie insight about what many health businesses think about you — from Dr. Brawley:

Mass screening is a lucrative business. I am haunted by a conversation I had in the late 1990s with a marketing executive at a major American hospital who bragged about his “prostate cancer business plan.” His hospital conducted free screening at a local mall every September for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

He explained that this was not just cheap and effective advertising for his hospital system. It was also a moneymaker. As he explained it, for every 1,000 men over age 50 who were screened at the mall, 145 would have an abnormal screen, and 135 would go to his hospital for evaluation. Fees collected from them would easily cover the cost of the free screening event. About 45 in that group would have cancer; the rest would be false positives.

The marketer had figured out how many men would be treated with surgery, radiation, and hormones. He had estimates of all the money the center would make from treating all 45 cancer cases. He knew how many men would be treated for urinary incontinence, and what his net profit for treating that would be. Amazingly, he even knew how many of the men would want penile prostheses surgically implanted to treat their impotence.

I asked him one question: “How many lives will you save if you screen a thousand men?” He looked at me as if I were a fool, and said, “Don’t you know? No one knows if this stuff saves lives. I can’t give you a number on that.”

I hope that marketer has moved on to selling vacuum cleaners or selling something that requires no conscience.

The final word…

Things aren’t going to change overnight. This recommendation is a way to knock down the lowest hanging fruit. Once it’s publicly and professionally accepted that this type of screening is not as effective as previously thought, the minds of doctors and patients alike become more malleable and open to shifting larger, more difficult ingrained beliefs.

I just hope it happens sooner than later.

Your question of the day: Do you know anyone who’s been treated for prostate cancer? Did they get harmed from the treatment? Do you think I’m being too optimistic?

Live Awesome!
Kev

Resources:

http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/prostatecancerscreening.htm
http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/task-force-psa-tests-do-more-harm-than-good/?hpt=hp_t3
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/22/opinion/brawley-prostate-screening/index.html

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

17 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Darlene says:

    Yes, I know somebody personally that has been harmed by prostate treatment………..as well as others that have been harmed by cancer screenings…….
    Personally, I’m ANTI doctor, though I really would like to get my blood levels checked. Who does this besides regular main stream doctors?

  2. Niven says:

    Yes, my father was treated unsuccessfully for prostate cancer and died aged 66. He had not had any screening and once is condition was diagnosed he was stage D, i.e., advanced. We will never know if early detection would have given him more life even if it were at a lesser quality because of the downsides of any treatment but the point surely is if he had been screened he would have had the option of making an informed decision. The screening itself, unlike, say, mammograms for breast cancer, is not harmful. A simple blood test. Once raised PSA levels are detected then an informed choice can be made on treatment options. Otherwise more men will end up like my father: uninformed and dead before his time.

  3. Thomas says:

    @Darlene:
    See Direct Labs:
    http://www.directlabs.com/

    and find a lab near you with LabCorp:
    https://www.labcorp.com/wps/portal/

    They have seasonal ‘special’ which combine several blood tests for a low price.

  4. I had aggressive prostate cancer. Luckily, the only mistake I made was having the biopsy. After that, I would not let MDs touch me. Seven years later, there is no trace of cancer, and I have no problems down there.
    I simply followed an alternative program including proper foods and exercise.

  5. C. Smith says:

    Would like more specifics of how Charlie Hanna handled his cancer.

  6. Julia says:

    In my town we have a doctor on the radio every Saturday (he’s an integrative doctor, an MD and homeopath) and just a few weeks ago he had another doctor on his show who is a urologist and specializes in prostate cancer and he kept harking on the importance of the PSA and the digital rectal exam by the doctor.

    I’m personally against too many cancer screenings and found it funny when my DO doctor talked about “preventative medicine” in regards to cancer screenings. I don’t go to that doctor any more, or any docs, actually. 🙂

    Kevin, just a thank you for introducing me to the Clinical Nutrition program you’re doing. I’ve been debating that program vs the Health Coach program at Institute of Integrative Nutrition and now I’m leaning more towards the Clinical Nutrition program. The Health Coach program has a lot more business training in it and looks very good and is only 1 year, but the Clinical Nutrition program is much more thorough in nutrition. Maybe I’ll do both eventually, and I also want to be a GAPS practitioner.

    Cheers

  7. Graham Fraser says:

    I believe in prostate cancer screening at least for older men or those with a family history. But psa testing must be supplemented with digital examination which some doctors are reluctant to do. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago. My psa was always low and I didn’t go back to the urologist when I should have. Eventually when I did go his digital examination detected a possible problem which was confirmed by a biopsy showing it was an aggressive cancer. I had the prostate surgically removed but the cancer had spread to two lymph nodes so the prognosis is not good. I have had radiotherapy and will be on hormone therapy for some time, with no significant problems with either. My psa is currently undetectable. Whether the cancer has been cured remains to be seen.

    When my doctor did the last two psa tests prior to my diagnosis he did not do digital tests. Had he done so the cancer probably would have been detected before it had spread and the prognosis would have been very much better. Don’t tell me screening isn’t useful but both tests must be done!

    It is true that the psa test is not very definitive. A psa above 4 can be an indicator and should be watched. Even lower levels are not definitive. A study showed that of men with psa up to 4 there were 15% with prostate cancer. Of the total 2.3% had an aggressive cancer. You might say that is a small number don’t worry about them but I can tell you that when you are part of the 2.3% you think differently. Everyone I get a chance to talk to about it gets my story and a recommendation for both psa and dre tests. Yes, there can be impotency and incontinence but the incidence is now much lower with the best surgical techniques.

    The recent European Randomised study of Screening for Prostate Cancer showed that over 10-12 years the reduction in deaths was 21% while in the final two years the reduction was 38% when the screened men were compared with other participants who were not offered regular testing. I think the evidence is absolutely clear.

  8. Dave from Texas says:

    I have prostate cancer. I use the PSA for trending purposes only. A single PSA reading and drawing a conclusion from that is getting the cart way ahead of the hores. I do take issue with some of the statements in the PSTF report that says a diagnosed untreated patient will live an average of 15 more years. I was diagnosed at 66, so think about that. Do I want to die at 81? Actually no I don’t. And the reason is I live an active life, eat organic, mostly vegetarian food, exercise aerobically every day and am not overweight. I supplement carefully, detox, consume ample probiotics and love life. I have too much to do and enjoy before I hit that wheelchair and blanket phase of my life!

    All that said, I would have to be drug kicking into a surgeon’s operating theater to have any traditional prostate treatment. No one can tell me yet how aggressive my cancer is, yet my doctor is recommending DaVinci robotic surgery with vivisection!

    Science is moving quickly in this area and I keep as up to date as I can. Genetic research is going to have within a short time the ability to tell each cancer patient how aggressive their cancer is in their own decoded genome. Then I will be able to truly assess my likelihood of dying of this disease before living a long and active life, hopefully into my 90’s.

    Kev, keep up the great work. You have many followers!

    Dave, Texas

  9. Cathy says:

    Dave from Texas, do you mind sharing your nutrition/supplement protocol? I am investigating this for my husband.i have improved several inflammatory conditions with the use of quercitin, nettle and other nutrients. I am a big believer that we can steer our destiny, however I must say, I think you are pretty brave, and probably smart, eskewing current traditional treatment. My husband has BPH, had cystoscope and meds, awaiting biopsy because of finding with PSA and digital found one side of the prostate to be larger and harder to the touch. I hope more people will share on this important topic.

  10. carvacrol says:

    I think you’re being too optimistic but I’m hoping you’re not. Things will take a long time to change, but at least they are starting to change. It’s a small victory in a long war.

  11. Christina says:

    My husband had agressive prostate cancer-Gleason score 9, PSA 49.He had always been extremely healthy,did hard physical work his whole life (72) He had regular heart exams, took Lifeline screenings and had a very healthy heart. He was treated with 45 radiation treatments and put on Lupron immediately.I’m not sure of the damage of radiation to him but the Lupron hormone treatments were just plain evil. Within a short period of time, he lost all his muscle mass, had congestive heart failure, extremely low ejection factor,kidney problems resulting in the end with dialysis and the last 3 months of life spent in the hospital taking care of these problems. His quality of life for the last year was horrible. I now think he would have been better off and had a better quality of life if he had just stopped at the radiation treatment and not gone on Lupron hormonal treatment. His doctors never told him about the damage Lupron can do to the heart and he should have been monitored very carefully but was not until he had CHF and was rushed to the hospital, spiraling downward from there. Lupron supresses testerone and now they are finding out that testerone is not the problem and a healthy level is a positive not negative sign. They based all treatment on PSA count and treated more agressevely as the count went up. Actually the doctor once told us that he had a patient with a count of over 4000 and he was not having problems. My husband’s was 150. With all the treatments to bring the PSA down, his health deteriorated and he died.

  12. Dave from Texas says:

    I was not prepared for any responses to my letter! I will say this though, and distill it down to a few bullet items about my thinking:

    1. God created each of us with unique characteristics, both physically and mentally. Therefore we need to decide our own unique approaches and tolerances (if I sound like Kevin, he has influenced me greatly). So each of us needs to find our own “sweet spot” and strive for peace of mind, however you do that. That is where I am.

    2. Read, read, read, and form conclusions.

    3. Discuss as an equal with your medical team. Do not accept blindly what they say. Ask polite but pointed questions. Find things out for yourself, conclude for yourself.

    4.Exercise religiously.

    5.Meditate, pray, be at one with your spiritual self. Never undersetimate the importance of this. Mind so controls the body!

    6.Eat well…and you know what I mean. Find out what works the best for your body type.

    Lastly, my heart goes out to Christina! My reading/research has turned up the same conclusion regarding hormone threapy and conclude it is not for me (but this may not be true for everyone), and also the thinking about testosterone. Contrarions to the testosterone momentum have been around for awhile (and this includes studies by some impressive names like Harvard Medical School) and it shows you how long it takes to change thinking that is embedded.

  13. deb says:

    Yes Kevin, you are an optimist.
    The problem is not that the test is imperfect. The problem is that the mainstream medical treatment is barbaric. Since the PTB make lots of money from it, it will not end quickly.

    Ignorance is not bliss. A high PSA is a warning that something may be wrong.

    Unfortunately, most people have an adaptive supportive life energy, and sheepily follow doctors’ orders. Friends call them brave. I call them indoctrinated into stupidity.

    True bravery is to say he-ll no to the doctor, and seek an alternative approach.

  14. Gil says:

    Over a year ago I found out that I had a nodule on one side of my prostate. 10 months ago, I had a biopsy. I did not want it since I had already had an exam by an alternative doctor in Mexico and he advised me to get an ultrasound and not a biopsy. My PSA had gone up to 8.6. I had the ultrasound and it concluded that I had a small nodule on one side of my prostate. The doctor told me that he was sure he could cure it. I told my daughter about the findings and she panicked and said I better go to an urologist and get a biopsy. I just wanted to follow my Mexican doctor´s advise and go on a special diet, exercise and supplement program which I did. However, my daughter kept insisting and I gave in just to quiet her since she was so worried and even made a special trip to visit me in Mexico where I live to convince me. Yes, I gave in and my primary doctor in San Diego sent me to the urologist from hell. He was so rude that he would not even answer my questions. He told me that alternative doctors were bogus. Anyway, I had the biopsy and got a terrible infection. I was very ill. I was hallucinating, vomiting, had a 103o temperature and was passing blood from both ends. My daughter had to take me to an emergency hospital where I was treated and given drugs to combat the infection which lasted over a month, and it took several months to get back to almost normal. This is the sickest I have ever been, and I am 75. the biopsy showed the same results as the ultrasound did. It was not necessary. The ultrasound did not make me ill nor did it punch holes in my prostate gland.

    I think the PSA can be an indicator of a potential problem, but the biopsy is what I think should be avoided. An ultrasound or and MRI can detect a problem without the risk of a terrible infection and if one does have cancer the biopsy opens up avenues of escape for the cancer. It can more easily get into the blood stream.

    The urologist strongly recommended that I get a Lupron shot and start on a daily strong radiation treatment plan. After investigating Lupron, I said ¨Hell NO!¨I rejected both and went back to the alternative doctor. It has been over a year and I feel great. I had an MRI 2 months ago and the nodule had not grown nor moved. My oncologist had also suggested that I start on radiation. I told him I wanted to give the alternative protocol a try first. He advised me not to wait over two months for fear of the cancer spreading. My Gleason score was a 7. He told me that I had aggressive cancer. My recent PSA did not go up. I feel great, and have actually gotten more energy and my skin and hair have improved and look better. I feel fantastic! No more traditional doctors for me, except for routine check ups etc.

    I say if you get a PSA, it is not a big deal so long as you don´t let the doctors scare you into a biopsy or radiation.

    Keep up the good work.

    Thank you.

  15. maureen says:

    Kevin,
    I hope you live a long and prostate cancer free life. However, my husband, who is 51 years old, was saved by regular routine psa screening. When his psa went from 0 to 100 in a matter of months…. he was diagnosed with aggressive form of prostate cancer. The test is an inexpensive blood test.. well worth it.!

  16. Mirdza says:

    Great article!! Thanks for writing it. I will pass it on to others since the word needs to get out.

  17. Jeff Harper says:

    Yes, I had treatment for prostate cancer and have regretted ever since. At age 51 I had my prostate removed. There were many urinary problems, no mostly resolved, but of course, I am impotent. The cancer returned and the Doctors want to radiate. I am trying a dietary solution, hoping to slow the growth of the cancer. I’ve been told that six month doubling time is the alert to get treatment. So far, it has not reached that speed, but my last PSA test was (.47). I check every three months. I really don’t want to be talked into radiation.

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