It seems like all cancer screenings are coming under fire recently. Rational, scientific attemps have been made to knock mammography off its pedastal, but emotions run very high on this topic and few see through this to the real story. Interestingly, the mammography “debate” is not new and may have been started some 22 years ago in the medical literature, when well known researchers began to question whether we should be putting all of our hopes into mammography.
PSA testing is no different. Not only are there questions about its effectiveness, but we really need to face the reality that some serious harms can come from overdiagnosis. Again, this is not new news. I had reviewed an article over 6 years ago looking at just how ineffective PSA screening was at saving lives.
This particular review article puts a more specific number on the effectiveness of PSA screening. Overall, researchers found that, to prevent a single death from prostate cancer over the course of 11 years, 1055 men would have to be screened. That’s basically a thousand-to-one odds. If this is what we hang our hats on when it comes to cancer “prevention” in this country, we truly are sunk.
In this country, we continue to rely on early detection as a sick sort of prevention, despite the literally thousands of research studies finding lifestyle factors that promote and poor lifestyle factors that prevent many types of cancers. It’s pretty clear cut. Lifestyle prevents cancer in the first place so that we do not have to rely on screening to “prevent” cancer.
I have provided a more in-depth review of a variety of ways to lower your risk of prostate cancer in the past and will not go into it again here. Just take this information and understand that cancer early detection tests (let’s not call them “prevention” tests) are a crap shoot at best, with massive levels of harm being done with false positives and detections of cancers that will likely never progress. Go into your screening as well educated as you can be.