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Monday, October 17, 2011


This happens in the breast cancer population too. On the other hand, who wants to be the patient who takes the "wait and see" approach on the odd chance that their cancer might not grow, may eventually resolve on its own, or isn't going to shake off a few cells that will decide to make their home in your brain or liver.

The problem is that most of the "harmless" cancers are only known to be "harmless" after the fact. Pathology isn't quite precise enough yet to definitively declare the course a particular cancer might take.

And...the only way for us to become more knowledgable about it, and have empirical proof in some of these cases, is to run clinical studies in which patients choose to receive no treatment.

Not many people would be willing to volunteer for that study.

I'm in agreement with everything terri writes in her comment. The problem with the stories I've been reading about the PSA test is that they leave the impression that the treatment goes from high PSA directly to complete removal of the prostate.

And it's a bit of misdirection to note that the treatment has side effects without noting that prostate cancer itself often has similar effects on that cherished organ.

Medicare will only pay for one PSA per year whether it's intended as screening or diagnostic (ie, to determine if further treatment is necessary if the prostate wasn't removed.)

So, I am in complete agreement that the test is misused and the payments for it are not reasonable. It's pushed hard for those who likely won't benefit and restricted for those who more likely will.

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