April , 2019

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By Thomas A. Farrington, PHEN President & Founder

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — I was in Atlanta, Georgia the past few days attending the American Urological Association’s (AUA) Annual Conference. While there we heard from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that it had ignored the voices of prostate cancer specialist, patients and patient advocacy organizations and that it was dancing to its own music by issuing a final “D” recommendation for the PSA test. This recommendation is against the routine use of the PSA test for the early detection of prostate cancer; this news made headlines across the country.

Since the draft recommendation issued by the USPSTF in October 2011, I have communicated PHEN’s opposition against the draft “D” recommendation. We stand firmly against this final recommendation and with many other organizations, prostate cancer specialists and some government agencies (see video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jIFcd8obfU&feature=g-upl) who accept data showing that the PSA test saves lives and is the major contributor to a decline of 49% in the prostate cancer death rate since the test has been used widely.

In a “Town Hall Meeting” held at the AUA conference that included a representative of the USPSTF it was clear that any argument made in opposition to the USPSTF recommendation was simply ignored by it. The moderator asked for a show of hands of those that disagreed with the USPSTF’s position and nearly all hands were raised.

At the heart of the “scientific evidence” used by the USPSTF to render its recommendation is the PLCO study. However the leader of this study, Dr. Gerald Andriole who participated on the panel for the Town Hall meeting has consistently stated his opposition to the conclusion that the USPSTF drew from this study and he supports the PSA test (see video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSouDkvH8cU&feature=relmfu). In addition, research experts emphatically point out that the PLCO data is too flawed to be used as the basis for a recommendation on the PSA test.

As I have pointed out since the PLCO study was released, African American men are not included in this study at a significant enough level that would allow the USPSTF to draw a conclusion on the effectiveness of the PSA test for Black men. However, the USPSTF has simply ignored this lack of data and included African American men and other high risk men in its final “D” recommendation. This action was taken in spite of calls from congressional leaders, medical specialists and patient advocates that such action would be reckless and without a scientific basis.

With its “D” recommendation, the USPSTF has issued a death sentence to those men that will need early detection of aggressive prostate cancer but will ignore their prostate health based on this recommendation.

PHEN will continue to focus on educating African American men about their prostate health and the importance of early detection of cancer. With a death rate 140% higher than for other men, Black men cannot simply ignore the killer within that is prostate cancer. PHEN will not be alone in its efforts as all of the organizations that focus on prostate cancer prevention, education and research that I have spoken with, strongly disagree with the USPSTF’s “D” recommendation (see additional information below).

African American men should ignore the USPSTF recommendation against the use of the PSA test. PHEN’s guidance is based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network “Prostate Cancer Early Detection Guidelines” which calls for a baseline PSA test for African American and other high risk men at age 40 following a discussion with their doctor about screening for the early detection of prostate cancer.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is an alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers. The NCCN guidelines are widely recognized by oncology clinicians and payors. The prostate cancer early detection guidelines stress the importance of involving the patient and informing him of the implications and potential consequences that may arise from the decision to embark on an early detection pathway.

I am privileged to serve as the patient advocate member of the NCCN “Prostate Cancer Treatments Guidelines Committee” with the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading prostate cancer medical and research specialists. In consultation with these leaders and others I will continue to provide my thoughts, information, and guidance to the families most impacted by prostate cancer.

Additional Information:

Congresswoman Donna Christensen Expresses Disappointment in the USPSTF Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations – Calls the Final Recommendation a Step in the Wrong Direction

New PSA Recommendations from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are a Disservice to Men

AUA Disputes Panel’s Recommendations On Prostate Cancer Screening

Urologists Outraged over Government Panel’s Recommendation to Stop Life-Saving Prostate Cancer Testing

About PHEN:

PHEN is a non-profit 501c3 organization founded in 2003 by Thomas A. Farrington, a prostate cancer survivor and author of the books “Battling the Killer Within” and “Battling the Killer Within and winning.” PHEN’s mission includes eliminating the African American prostate cancer disparity and working towards a cure for the disease. Black men in the United States have a prostate cancer mortality rate 2.4 times higher than other men. Visit PHEN’s website at www.rapcancer.org

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