MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jim C. Hu, M.D., M.P.H.
Ronald P. Lynch Professor of Urologic Oncology
Director of the LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery
Weill Cornell Medicine
New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell
New York, NY 10065
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against PSA testing in men older than 75 years in 2008 and more recently in all US men regardless of age in 2012. This was largely based on a faulty study, the prostate, lung, colo-rectal and ovarian screening study. We demonstrated in May 2016 that this randomized trial did not compare screening to no screening or apples to oranges, as it set out to do. It compared screening to screening. Although controversial, the guidelines were well-intentioned, as recognize that there is over-diagnosis and over-treatment of men with prostate cancer. Given this background, the goal of our study was to explore the downstream consequences of the recommendation against PSA screening. As such, we explored 3 separate databases to characterize national procedure volumes for prostate needle biopsy and radical prostatectomy, or surgery to cure prostate cancer.
The main finding was that prostate biopsy numbers decreased by 29% and radical prostatectomy surgeries decreased by 16% when comparing before to after USPSTF recommendations against PSA screening. Therefore practice patterns followed policy. Prostate biopsies are usually performed due to an elevated, abnormal screening PSA. However, it is also performed to monitor low-risk, slow growing prostate cancers. We also found that while the overall number of prostate biopsies decreased, there was a 29% increase in the proportion or percentage of biopsies performed due to active surveillance, or monitoring of low risk prostate cancers which should be done periodically. Therefore we provide the first national study to demonstrate that there is less over-diagnosis and over-treatment of prostate cancer.
However, the concern is that we also recently demonstrated that there is more aggressive prostate cancer on surgical pathology for men who go on to radical prostatectomy. They have high grade, higher stage cancers, which have a lower chance of cure. The link is: