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ABC News Bashes PSA Test &Early Detection, Says ACS Opposes "Mass Screening"


Jim Fulks and grand daughter HannahMarch 8, 1999. Last night's ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings appeared to be another attack [following Nicholas's Regush's] on PCa screening and early detection. In a three and a half minute segment introduced by Jennings, ABC News correspondent John McKenzie in New York presented only one lone voice in favor of early detection and screening, that of Dr. William Catalona of Washington University School of Medicine. The major focus of the segment was on negative aspects of screening/early detection.
     Dr. Gabriel Feldman from the American Cancer Society said: "We cannot in good conscience make blanket recommendations for mass screening for prostate cancer based on what we know in 1999."
     McKenzie quoted NCI studies done in nine regions of the country where screening was (apparently) conducted and found the highest incidence in the Seattle area and the lowest in Connecticut - but claimed the death rate was nearly identical in all regions. NCI's Dr. Otis Brawley said, "...suggest that screening picks up a lot of men who, yes, they have prostate cancer, but they don't need to KNOW they have prostate cancer and they don't need treatment."
     ABC's McKenzie, went on to say that "in most men prostate cancer grows slowly and is usually harmless"; and, while there are over 17 million men in this country with prostate cancer, 92 percent of them will never be bothered by it and less than 0.25 per cent of them will die from it. The American Cancer Society estimates 37,000 men will die of prostate cancer this year, but more than half of those will be over 80 years of age. (Please tell that to my friend in Walnut Creek, CA. - and his wife and children - who was diagnosed at age 39 with a PSA of 5,500!).
      Early detection, the ABC's correspondent concludes, makes a man choose between treatments (surgery or radiation) which can leave him impotent or incontinent - and still have a 30 per cent chance of recurrent disease anyway. So why take the test?
      Peter Jennings finished the piece with a tag-line about men at "high risk" - African Americans or those with a family history of PCa - needing to check with their doctors about the advisability of taking the test.

James "Jim" Fulks,a PCa Survivor, is Founder & Facilitator of Prostate Cancer Survivors' Support Group (PCSSG) 320 Carmelita Place, Fremont, CA 94539. Jim adds: "I'm FURIOUS, as are many I've spoken with today, and am considering resigning from my activities as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society over their position on this issue! "

ACS says on their site and in their literature: "The American Cancer Society recommends that both prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) should be offered annually, beginning at age 50 years, to men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy, and to younger men who are at high risk."


This article is archived from March '99.



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