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Half of All Doctors Think It’s a Waste for All Men to Test for Prostate Cancer

Doctors are unlikely to stop screening men for prostate cancer, even though about half agree they should, according to a small survey of physicians from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Many prostate cancer patients and their doctors were outraged after a government advisory panel recommended Monday that physicians stop using the PSA blood test to screen healthy men. In its statement, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force noted that the PSA has never been shown to reduce overall deaths, although treatments often make men impotent or incontinent.

Doctors gave conflicting and sometimes surprising responses, however, to a survey about those guidelines and whether they would follow them.

Although about half of primary care doctors agreed with the guidelines, less than 2% said they planned to actually follow them and completely stop using the PSA.

More than 60% of doctors, however, said that the guidelines would make them “much less” or “somewhat less” likely to order routine PSA tests for all men. The survey of 114 community physicians was taken in October, after the task force issued draft guidelines. The survey was published in April in Archives of Internal Medicine. The final guidelines came out Monday.

“Many of the doctors agreed we should not be ordering routine PSA screenings on everyone,” says study author Craig Pollack, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins. “But there is still some degree of uncertainty.”

To read the entire story by Liz Szabo, got to USA Today

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