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Task Force Takes Positive Step with New Prostate Cancer PSA Testing Recommendation

ZERO Calls for Patient and Medical Communities to Strengthen Research to Compel Further Progress in Prostate Cancer Testing Guidelines
For Immediate Release
April 11, 2017

Washington, D.C. – The prostate cancer advocacy community took a big step forward today in saving lives from prostate cancer. The national task force that doctors look to for health and prevention guidelines has updated its recommendation on prostate cancer testing.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) upgraded its recommendation for the first time in 10 years to a C rating, meaning there’s “at least a moderate certainty that the net benefit is small”. The previous D rating labeled the prostate-specific antigen blood test (PSA) as doing “more harm than good,” and strongly discouraged physicians from using the test for men at risk for the disease.
“Our advocates have been in ongoing contact with the USPSTF by sharing information on how the PSA test saves lives,” says Jamie Bearse, ZERO’s CEO. “While the improved recommendation is a step in the right direction, there is much work to do. We must undo a decade-long message that discouraged men from getting tested, and encourage men to talk to the doctor about their risks and the test.”
The USPSTF’s new recommendation points to the need to prioritize research on high-risk groups like African-Americans and those with a family history of the disease, as well as continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of diagnostic tools to determine aggressive disease.
With the upgraded rating, the USPSTF recommends selectively offering the PSA screening to patients based on each physician’s professional judgment and patient preferences. Further, the USPSTF recognizes that research is underway to develop diagnostic tools for prostate cancer.
“Unfortunately, the C rating is still insufficient and dangerous for high-risk men or men who – without testing – will develop aggressive or advanced disease,” said Bearse. “The patient advocacy community, the research field, and the doctors who treat prostate cancer patients every day must stand united that testing saves lives, and we must support and advance research to compel the USPSTF to improve its recommendation again.”
Robert Ginyard, a prostate cancer survivor and vice chair of ZERO’s board, knows the danger prostate cancer poses to high-risk men: “The PSA test saved my life. I was diagnosed when I was 48 years old. Detecting and treating my prostate cancer early has given me the gift of more quality time with my wife and two daughters.”
ZERO has been on the front lines for more than 20 years, advocating for increased prostate cancer research funding, awareness, and education. Last month, more than 120 ZERO advocates fought for increased research funding on Capitol Hill and met with USPSTF Chairwoman, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, M.D., Ph.D. M.A.S., about the Task Force’s recommendations. In alliance with our partners in the prostate cancer and men’s health communities, ZERO will educate men and their families about the new recommendation and remain resolved that early detection saves lives.

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