Prostate screenings fall short again
I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- and I'll keep on saying it until I'm blue in the face if I have to: Prostate screenings don't save lives.
It was true when I was the only one saying it years ago... and it's still true today, as a major new long-term study proves me right.
Researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute recruited 9,026 men and randomly assigned 1,500 of them to get screened every three years between 1987 and 1996.
For the first two screenings, they got digital rectal exams... with PSA tests worked into the mix for the remainder.
During a 20-year follow-up period, 4 percent of those who didn't get screened were diagnosed with prostate cancer... versus 6 percent of those who got screened.
That's a 50 percent boost in cancer diagnoses among men who were screened -- so you'd think that would lead to a 50 percent boost in survival rates, right?
Longtime readers, say it with me: WRONG!
Both groups had the exact same rate of death by prostate cancer, according to the study in BMJ -- and the researchers say it's because the screenings only detected low-risk tumors that hadn't spread.
Those are exactly the tumors that don't need to be treated -- but once they're detected, cancer docs start salivating. They can't wait to chop, poke, slice and zap their way to another big paycheck.
Those treatments can leave you weeping over a leaky, limpy manpart -- but none of this matters to your surgeon. He's got a sports car, a vacation home and probably a few women on the side -- and those things don't pay for themselves, you know.
That's not the only prostate scam going: Another new study finds that older men -- men who couldn't possibly benefit from prostate screenings no matter which side of this debate you're on -- are still getting screened anyway.
In fact, they're more likely to get screened than younger men!
Researchers say 46 percent of men in their early 70s and 25 percent of those 85 and older are getting screened regularly -- versus 24 percent of men in their early 50s.
But the only number you need to remember is the one from the study I mentioned earlier: zero boost in survival rates.
And that means you can say no to screenings at any age.