This week’s summary of notable health and cancer news:
All Routine PSA Tests for Prostate Cancer Should End
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is stirring the pot again. Two years ago they advised against regular mammograms for women until age 50. This week they took aim at routine PSA testing for prostate cancer. Their recommendation: don’t bother. The reason is not so much the PSA test itself, but the subsequent diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer that happens because of it. A few years ago, a study from Dartmouth College estimated that between 1986 and 2005, one million American men were treated unnecessarily for the disease.
Dr. Otis Brawely, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, weighs in with his opinion on the task force’s recommendation at CNN.com. His assessment: “While I hope that this new recommendation will put an end to mass screening, I am not optimistic. As Upton Sinclair once said, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’”
Middle-aged Cancer Deaths at ‘All-Time Low’
The BBC reports on a study from Cancer Research UK which found a 40% drop in cancer deaths for people in their 50s, from 1971 to 2010. The cancers which saw the largest drops in death rates were stomach, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cervical, testicular, and lung cancer.
Baby Boomers Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C
The Wall Street Journal reports on a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calling on all baby boomers to get tested for hepatitis C. The CDC estimates that 800,000 boomers may have contracted hepatitis C from a transfusion or drug use, which puts them at risk for liver cancer or cirrhosis. Treatment for hepatitis C is improving, and testing could save more than 120,000 lives.