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Debate over Prostate Cancer Screening Continues

Approximately 8,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in advanced stages every year, according to TIME Magazine. Many of these men may have been spared such grim news, had their not been a delayed diagnosis of prostate cancer by their healthcare providers. And yet, government regulators and physicians alike are arguing over whether extensive screening can help bring these startling numbers down significantly.

The challenge healthcare providers and patients face in determining whether or not to screen for prostate cancer can be summed up by the findings of a recent governmental study. The study concludes that screening for prostate cancer often does more harm than good. False negatives on blood tests can put healthy patients in danger. In fact, a recent European study suggests that for every one man saved through screening, 37 additional men will be wrongly diagnosed and treated for cancer that they do not have.

On the flip side from the recent governmental study, a recent survey of prostate cancer data over time highlights that without prostate cancer screening, nearly three times as many American men would be diagnosed with late state prostate cancer ever year.

Unfortunately, the divide within the medical community over prostate screening hurts no one but patients. Failure to screen and diagnose can cost men their lives, whereas inaccurate screening can harm men's physical health when they are treated for cancer which they do not have.

Each man must make an individual decision related to screening. Hopefully the medical community will treat accuracy in screening with as much urgency as patients deserve.

Source: TIME, "Prostate Cancer Screening: Why Can't Doctors Agree?" Laura Blue, July 30, 2012

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