US expert panel recommends against prostate cancer screening

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 10 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6479
  1. Jeanne Lenzer1,
  2. Shannon Brownlee2
  1. 1New York
  2. 2Washington, DC

The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test should not be used to screen men for prostate cancer because it is unlikely to save lives and can cause harm, says an independent panel of experts.

The US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent body of 16 experts that evaluates evidence to grade devices and rank preventive services, announced its recommendation against prostate cancer screening of all US men on 7 October. In a statement it said that there was “moderate certainty that PSA-based screening for prostate cancer has no net benefit.”

The task force made its recommendation in 2009 and again in 2010 after in-depth scientific reviews conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, but these were never published.

The agency’s 2010 review was published on 7 October after an article in the New York Times magazine publicised the fact that this recommendation was made, but not published, nearly two years earlier ( …

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