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November 1, 2012

No Mos on

We avoided Movember last year and will do so this.

It’s not the advice to stop smoking and take exercise that annoys us.  It’s the effort to make men fret over their health the same way the health police have long persuaded women to.  Click here for Movember’s health checklist.  Here’s what really bugs us, their advice on prostate screening.

“The purpose of screening is to detect prostate cancer at its earliest stages, before any symptoms have developed.
Typically, prostate cancer that’s detected by screening is in the very early-stages and can be treated most effectively. A doctor can screen for prostate cancer quickly and easily in their office using two tests:
The PSA Blood Test
The Digital Rectal Exam
The question of screening is a personal and complex one. It’s important for every man to talk with his doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is right for him. […]
It’s important for men to create a proactive prostate health plan based on your lifestyle and family history, as well as to discuss these tests with your doctor to make the screening decisions that are best for you.”

No it’s not.  Here’s the Cochrane summary.

“Prostate cancer screening did not significantly decrease prostate cancer-specific mortality in a combined meta-analysis of five RCTs. Only one study (ERSPC) reported a benefit in a subgroup of men aged 55 to 69. Within this subgroup of men it was determined that 1410 men needed to be invited to screening and 48 additional men subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer needed to receive early intervention to prevent one additional prostate cancer death at 10 years… .”

If your stomach is strong and you want to read about those 48 additional early interventions click here.

Prostate screening does not fulfil the criteria for a worthwhile screening programme.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (click here) concludes “that many men are harmed as a result of prostate cancer screening and few, if any, benefit”. It recommends “against screening for prostate cancer.

The UK National Screening Committee (click here) “does not recommend screening men for prostate cancer”.

Both committees are right, but they are getting push back from vested interests, screening doctors, urologists and cancer societies. Movember is part of that vested interest push back.

If you care for your health guys, walk away.

Jim Thornton

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