Reuters Health Information has posted a remarkable rebuttal of its own article about screening for prostate-specific antigen. Inside sources suggest that it was my blog post about their story that prompted this. You might recall my conclusion, after critiquing the poor science displayed in the article:
Maybe I shouldn't judge from the article alone. Maybe the scientific paper has a cogent hypothesis that is supported by the data. But, as presented here -- and picked up by several other publications -- this seems like a pretty sorry analysis.
Well, now they agree. Three days after the blog post the following appeared:
Study suggesting PSA screening for underserved men questioned
Last Updated: 2012-06-08 15:30:03 -0400 (Reuters Health)
[Note to clients: This story adds reporting and context to a May 29 Reuters Health story, "For some, prostate CA screening can be difference between life and death," which ran as 20120529clin014. Where possible, we recommend including a link to this story where that one appears.]
By Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Experts are questioning the claims of a study on metastatic prostate cancer in underserved men presented May 22 at the 107th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in Atlanta.
"The authors are arguing that, in the absence of screening, men with prostate cancer will be more likely to present with symptomatic, advanced disease," said Dr. Robert Volk, a professor of internal medicine who has studied prostate cancer screening at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
"Yet, the large screening trials in the U.S. and Europe show at best a small mortality benefit of early detection in large part because current testing does a poor job of identifying cancer that is destined to threaten longevity," Dr. Volk told Reuters Health by email.
"There is no doubt men with metastatic prostate cancer are suffering but our current screening approaches do not appear to lessen this burden."
'NO BASIS IN SCIENCE'
Dr. Steven Woloshin, who studies the risks and benefits of cancer screening at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, agreed.
"The point that the researchers are raising, the fact that there are some men with terrible prostate cancer... that's true, but that doesn't mean screening will help them," he told Reuters Health.
"At most the mortality benefit is really small and there's probably for every death averted 40 or 50 over-diagnoses with harm and no benefit," Dr. Woloshin said.
"The assumption that we should push increased screening in that population to counteract these health disparities that we see by socioeconomic class really has no basis in science."