Arguably the most essential and indispensable aspect of life is the attainment and preservation of good health. Individuals with health-related complications are often prevented from leading what many would consider to be a normal lifestyle. One of the several ailments that impedes typical human functioning is prostate cancer. The community of experts and professionals who have dedicated their lives to this field of study are, at this time, engaged in a substantive yet divisive and strongly opinionated dispute regarding a test considered by some to aid in the detection of this cancer. This highly scrutinized test is known as the prostate-specific antigen test, more commonly referred to as the PSA test. In the United States and more broadly the world today, the prostate-specific antigen test yields little or no positive results while having the potential to generate damage and destruction and, therefore, should not be administered on a regular basis as a means of detecting this form of malignancy.
Cancer of the prostate has retained its place as the leading source of cancer apart from the melanomas and carcinomas of the skin. In addition, this disease is the second leading killer among men in the United States that pass away due to cancer.1(p164) What then is the reason for such a polarized dialogue concerning a simple diagnostic tool that is relatively painless and noninvasive? The discussion on this issue, although simmering throughout the scientific and medical fraternity for a lengthy period of time, was in fact brought to a boil and to the forefront of the news in October of 2011 when a group known as the United States Preventative Services Task Force released their findings on the issue. The USPSTF report, considered to be great in intellectual value, sided with those on the side of less if not eliminated PSA screening.
One aspect of the draft that may have fueled the blowback even more than the results, however, was just how insignificant and even detrimental this organization thought the PSA screening test was to be considered. In a fairly easy to follow rankings system or grading scale, this government health body had previously given the PSA procedure an “I” grade; in other words, the screening was thought of as inconclusive and neither the harm nor benefit could be proven by either side. In the new report, a D grade is imparted upon the screening which signifies that it is thought of in such a negative light that the panel recommends and advises against the test. Not many routine tests of this nature are given such a poor status; this fact should and does lead many physicians away from the regular administration of the screening.
Not only is this test ill-advised by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, it has also been looked down upon in the past, in a sense, by various other respected and knowledgeable medical organizations. For example, both the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association have taken...