In CR’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue, we wrote about the controversy surrounding newly revised cancer screening guidelines. We asked our readers to tell us if they think the new guidelines are an improvement in cancer care, or a setback.
Below are a few excerpts from some of the responses we received.
The new guidelines discourage men from undergoing simple tests that might identify deadly cancers early enough to intervene successfully.
Early diagnosis saves lives. Just look at the reduction in mortality rate since widespread use of PSA testing in the late 1980s.
Inappropriate treatment does not result from diagnosis; it results from a failure of science and medical practitioners to discern and treat only the potentially lethal forms of cancer.
More funding for research, clinical trials and medical advancements in diagnostic methods will lead to successful control of prostate cancer.
I see the recent announced changes in recommended screening to be a setback. It has taken years to get people to agree and actually go through with regular screening. Now those who weren’t convinced of the value of those tests feel vindicated and will put off much-needed screenings. The last thing we need is professional organizations sending mixed signals to the public.
Since I am an advanced prostate cancer survivor, the screening debate for me is moot.
The issue with PSA tests is further confused by the statement that PSA screening causes more harm than good. The underlying logic is that men get overtreated when it is not necessary. The real harm comes ... from the misuse of the information gained from the test. ...
In many instances, the economics of insurance reimbursements contributes to this problem.
New York City
In April 2002 (age 52), I was diagnosed with stage IV inflammatory breast cancer and given less than a year to live.
Fortunately, I’m still alive, but I wouldn’t be if I hadn’t gone for regular annual mammograms. After a double mastectomy, I’m still on chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay. I have PET scans bi-annually and blood tests and office visits every six weeks.
North Palm Beach, Fla.
I do not think the verdict is out yet on this issue. However, I believe we [should] focus on education and prevention, i.e., promoting healthy lifestyles. On the other hand, individuals who have a strong family history should have cancer screening—probably more frequently. I know firsthand that a person can do all the right things and still develop disease. Even though a healthy lifestyle is not a guarantee to a disease-free life, it does help the body heal and bounce back faster.
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