Patient Advocacy Groups Say Current USPSTF Recommendation Is Potentially Harmful to Men’s Health
11/30/16 WASHINGTON — A group of prominent patient-advocacy and awareness organizations are urging legislators to support the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016, H.R. 1151. The bill will be the subject of a hearing on November 30, 2016 before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Prostate cancer advocacy groups believe the legislation could lead the way in reversing the Task Force’s recommendation against screening for prostate cancer because it requires the Task Force to consult with patient advocates and specialists when formulating a recommendation, among other substantive process changes in the bill. “The recommendations made by the USPSTF have a significant impact on which preventive services patients receive, and this has been clear in the case of prostate cancer screening,” said Brandon Leonard, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Men’s Health Network.
“We believe that more involvement from patients, advocates and specialists will improve the USPSTF process and result in recommendations that better reflect the experience of patients.”
The USPSTF is currently reconsidering its 2012 “D” rating for the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in the early detection of prostate cancer, which means the Task Force currently recommends against the screening. The organizations listed below are urging the Task Force to fully consider the impact a recommendation against screening has on the health of men, including those at higher risk of developing and dying of prostate cancer. Currently, private insurers are not required to cover the test and primary care physicians may be reluctant to recommend the test in the face of the USPSTF’s “D” rating.
“African American men were ignored with the 2012 Task Force's recommendation against PSA testing for prostate cancer,” said Thomas Farrington, President of Prostate Health Education Network. “Increased transparency should prevent this from happening again.” The Task Force is a federal group composed of national medical experts whose recommendations influence healthcare providers and both public and private insurance coverage decisions.
A "D" grade is defined as “moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit, or that the harms outweigh the benefits.” This means that the USPSTF believes men should only be tested for prostate cancer using the PSA after they display symptoms of possible prostate cancer. Because prostate cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages, waiting to test until the patient has symptoms can be fatal as at that point the cancer has spread and the prospects for remission are remote.
“Prostate cancer has a 99 percent survival rate when caught early. Until research provides an improved method of early detection for prostate cancer, the PSA test is the best first step to give men the best odds at beating the disease,” said ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer CEO Jamie Bearse. “It’s critical to include urologists and clinical oncologists in the evaluation of the PSA test on how it can best be used to save lives; particularly for those at increased risk like African-Americans and men with a family history.”
The following organizations support this message: Men’s Health Network (MHN) ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure Malecare Cancer Support The National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions (NASPCC) Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC) The Prostate Net Us TOO Prostate Cancer Education & Support
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