Prostate Cancer Roundtable Expresses Concern over Federal Recommendations Impeding Access to the PSA, a Key Cancer Screening Test
-U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Draft Recommendations Would Decrease Access to the Prostate-Specific Antigen Test-
Washington, DC, October 31, 2011 – The Prostate Cancer Roundtable issued a statement today expressing deep concern over U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendations that would impede men’s access to a lifesaving cancer screening test – most particularly for high risk men. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a vital tool in the early detection of prostate cancer and the USPSTF recommendations would systematically undermine coverage of the test through health plans.
This month, the USPSTF released draft recommendations which would downgrade the PSA test grade to “D”, recommending against the use of PSA testing in healthy men that “do not have symptoms that are highly suspicious of prostate cancer.” This grade change alone will undermine access to the PSA test, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires group and individual health plans to cover without cost-sharing only those preventive services rated A and B by the USPSTF.
“The Task Force failed to address the benefits of screenings for groups of men well known to be at high risk, including African-Americans, Veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange, and men with a family history of prostate cancer,” Added Thomas Farrington, President of the Prostate Health Education Network. “The draft recommendations ignore the situations faced by a significant number of men in these groups who are at the highest risk for the disease and face additional risk of dying from prostate cancer if not treated early.”
“Since the PSA test was introduced in the mid-1990’s mortality from prostate cancer has dropped by 40 percent,” stated National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions President Merel Nissenberg. “Because of this, 90 percent of prostate cancers are found before they spread. Finding prostate cancer early moves the survival rate from 29 percent to nearly 100 percent.”
Research by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Modeling Network has shown that as much as 70 percent of the drop in mortality can be attributed to PSA screening. (Quantifying the role of PSA screening in theUSprostate cancer mortality decline. Cancer Causes and Control , Volume 19, Number 2, 175-181.)
“Healthy men should not be discouraged from getting a PSA test and should be able to use the information it provides to make an educated decision with their doctor regarding their health care choices,” stated Thomas Kirk, President and CEO of Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network. “The Task Force’s recommendations are framed to discourage that possibility.”
“Though the PSA test is inconclusive on its own,” stated Men’s Health Network Vice President Scott Williams. “It is a diagnostic tool that is an important part of the decision making process for men and their doctors. Testing is just the first step in a journey that may include active surveillance or timely treatment for appropriately selected patients.”
The above statement has been issued on behalf of and endorsed by the following Prostate Cancer Roundtable’s member organizations.
- Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure
- Malecare Prostate Cancer Support
- Men’s Health Network
- National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions
- Prostate Conditions Education Council
- Prostate Health Education Network
- The Prostate Net
- Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network
- Women Against Prostate Cancer
- ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer