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FALL 2013 A PUBLICATION FOR COMMUNITY PHYSICIANS Changes in prostate testing Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologists developing ways to help those with prostate cancer live longer, even as doctors pass on recommending screening for the disease earlier BY JIMMY MAGAHERN R arely does it pay to procrastinate — especially when it comes to taking care of your health. But for men over 50 who are still putting off getting that dreaded prostate cancer screening done, relax: doing nothing just might be the best choice after all. That, in a nutshell, is the finding published last year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which firmly came out against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer. The hotly-debated reversal on the decades-old practice of routinely recommending PSA tests to every male over 50 concluded that, for the majority of those tested, the tests might actually do more harm than good, leading to unnecessary surgery, radiation and hormone therapy that creates more harmful side effects than benefits. “If you’ve been putting it off, you’re probably one of the smart people,” says Farshid Dayyani, MD, Ph.D., medical oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert. TASK FORCE FINDINGS For every thousand men screened, the task force found, only one manages to beat the inevitable, and avoid cancer. Meanwhile, up to one-third will end up with urinary incontinence, bowel problems or impotence from the treatments elected to fight cancers that, odd as it sounds, the patient often could have lived with anyway. “The PSA is a good test of the prostate gland,” Dayyani explains. “But it’s a bad test for cancer, in that it’s not specific to cancer. A prostate infection will increase your PSA level; a prostate biopsy will increase your PSA level. So you have a lot of false-positives. People who get the biopsy but then turn out not to have cancer.” Even when the screening is right, and it correctly detects the development of prostate cancer, Dayyani says, what it’s catching is more often than not a slow-moving villain that seldom ends up being the body’s killer. “People end up carrying out a diagnosis of, quote-unquote, ‘cancer’ on conditions that nine out of 10 of them wouldn’t have died from anyway, even if no one had diagnosed it.” PROLONGING LIFE Specialists have yet to come up with a better test for detecting prostate cancer early, and PSA’s, according to the April INSIDE 2 CME Event 3 Treatments and Procedures 4 Blood Cancer Program 5 The Undiagnosed Breast Clinic Farshid Dayyani, MD, Ph.D., medical oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert 6 What’s happening at Banner MD Anderson 7 Interventional Radiology with Dr. Andrew Price 8 Banner MD Anderson physicians

Banner MD Anderson Rounds - Fall 2013

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