Do Prostate Cancer Screenings Cause More Harm Than Good?

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Story at-a-glance -

  • A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is often recommended to men over 50 to screen for prostate cancer
  • Elevated PSA levels may indicate cancer or they could be elevated due to other causes
  • If your PSA test comes back elevated, it may lead to unnecessary biopsy and/or unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer, which can cause lasting side effects

By Peter Starr

Be Informed About Prostate Cancer and the PSA Test

Through my 11 years of study, and more recently, the three years it took to produce the documentary “Surviving Prostate Cancer Without Surgery, Drugs, or Radiation,” one issue repeatedly reared itself – why are men routinely screened en-masse for their PSA score, when the data clearly indicates that it results in a huge excess of radical invasive treatments, most of which, up to 85 percent according to some studies, are unnecessary?

If you are a man aged 50 and above, then I am sure you are familiar with the PSA screening. More than that, I am sure you are aware of being bombarded with promotions encouraging you to get your PSA tested, sometimes free-of-charge.

Whole parades and motorcycle rides are organized to drive you to get tested, like it’s a simple procedure with no negative implications. Simple it is, but one thing is for sure, you are not told the entire truth about the prostate cancer “industry” and the large part played in it by you getting a regular PSA test.

Important Stats to Be Aware Of

First, let me say that the PSA test in itself is not the problem, it is what is done with that information following the test.

Let me walk you through the chronology of likely events, before giving you some statistics that you should be aware of, and which at least for me, is a cause for consideration, if not alarm, if your PSA shows a higher number than what is considered normal.

Let’s take a 60-year-old male that is convinced by his primary care physician to take the test and the number comes back as an 8 (normal for a man of that age is to be less than 4, although that in itself is an arbitrary number).

The physician will then likely send you to a urologist for a biopsy. With a 60-year-old (or older), the biopsy will likely show some cancer.

The Data Don’t Lie

According to mortality data, 46 percent of all men in the USA between the ages of 50 and 59 have prostate cancer. The rate increases significantly as men age. At this point the urologist will likely recommend immediate surgery. (After all, most urologists are surgeons.)

Seventy percent of men who choose surgery do so within 48 hours of the diagnosis – a very significant statistic since one is highly unlikely to die of prostate cancer in the immediate future, while the potential for a life of impotence and incontinence post-surgery is considerable.

So, you can see the unquestionable connection between a simple routine PSA test and the potential of a life without your prostate, but with significant and real life challenges to remember it by.

Is the PSA Era Over?

To quote Richard Ablin Ph.D., the man who discovered the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) molecule, "I never dreamed that my discovery four decades ago would lead to such a profit-driven public health disaster," and Thomas Stamey, M.D., an early proponent of PSA screening (published in the Journal of Urology in 2004), “The PSA era is over in the USA.”

Our study raises a very serious question of whether a man should even use the PSA test for prostate cancer screening anymore. If you have a PSA test and find the number elevated, think before you take the next step.

Retest, and have your doctor conduct a PCA3 and a 4K score (there are other exams such as a 3D-color Doppler Ultrasound), before jumping into the “sheep dip” of treatment protocols that the majority of men who are left impotent and incontinent, live to regret.

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About the Author

Peter Starr is the founder and director of the Healing Arts Education Foundation in Los Angeles, and producer of the television program “Surviving Prostate Cancer,” seen on many Public Television Stations.

More Information

To learn more, I highly recommend obtaining Peter's film, now available as a three-DVD set, along with a 40-page resource guide. The name, address, telephone number, and qualifications of each of the 56 featured doctors are included in the guide.

At present, this documentary is the most comprehensive compilation available on the alternative views on prostate cancer treatment. In closing, Peter offers the following suggestion:

"The thing that seems to be common amongst men who have a prostate cancer diagnosis is the fear in their voice, and in their system, when they come out of the doctor's office. The one thing I'd like to say to men generally is, 'You're not going to die tomorrow.'

Don't let the fear control the decision making process of that doctor who would like to keep you in his particular path, because if that urologist doesn't do surgery, he's not going to get paid. What I like to see people do is to try to get their lives together over a six-month period and monitor it. That's got to be the better way to go, I would think, in the long term. But don't let fear rule your decision-making process."