Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shannon Brownlee on the pros and cons of early cancer screening

CNN is reporting that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force plans to release a "D" recommendation against screening for prostate cancer in all men for public comment next Tuesday. They didn't get that information from me, because I don't work for the Task Force any more and couldn't confirm it even if I wanted to. But if it's true, as I just told CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, this recommendation is - despite the furor that is bound to ensue - long overdue and completely justified. This short video from Shannon Brownlee, one of the authors of the New York Times Magazine piece, "Can Cancer Ever Be Ignored?" explains why the science simply doesn't support the widespread belief that in prostate cancer, early detection always saves lives.

1 comment:

  1. It's been quite a day. The Cancer Letter and the New York Times have confirmed the earlier CNN story. Here's an interesting exchange from Paul Goldberg's published conversation with Shannon Brownlee regarding the "public comment" period for new USPSTF recommendations:

    PG: There was a change in the procedure
    that AHRQ is using to release the task force
    recommendations now. Have you looked at that?

    SB: I have no idea. I didn’t know there was.

    PG: What they are doing now is they are going
    to publish on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. They will put it on their website, no press release, just a little note saying that the draft recommendation has been issued. There’s going to be a month of public comment. Why is public comment necessary if the whole purpose of the task force is to rely on
    pre-specification of procedures?

    SB: I don’t know. It’s like public comment—oh
    great. So this is science by consensus? This is science by mob rule? That’s crazy.

    PG: If we are going to do this, why have task
    force, why have science?

    SB: Why have a preventive services task force
    that you’ve given this job of doing a careful review of what the evidence says. Why bother? Why not just put a recommendation out there and do crowd-sourcing on it?