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Posts Tagged ‘American Urological Association’

PR NEWSWIRE: The four main prostate cancer treatment options have similar outcomes – the complications differ vastly, the recent American Urological Association annual conference heard.

The best advice for men and their partners? Don’t take the word of one doctor (who may only know about his/her own speciality). Get more than one opinion and go to the web and do your own research. READ MORE> and HERE>

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URO TODAY: Concerned about recent controversy that disparaged testing for prostate cancer, the American Urological Association has reaffirmed its backing for testing. READ MORE>

The American Urological Association is aware of recent news reports disparaging prostate cancer testing.

We are concerned that these reports are causing significant confusion for patients and we wish to clarify our recommendations on prostate cancer testing with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam.

The AUA strongly supports early prostate cancer detection and feels it is in a man’s best interest to consider being tested for prostate cancer.

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PROSTABLOG NZ: In view of renewed NZ debate about PSA testing for prostate cancer, it’s useful to take another look at the updated guidelines published by the American Urological Association in July this year. READ MORE>

The key changes were:

  • a recommendation that all men, whether they have symptoms or not, should get their first PSA test when they turn 40;
  • the final decision about getting tested is an individual one for a man, but made in consultation with his doctor. Mass screening was not recommended.

The Australian and NZ Urological Society have followed suit on these guidelines, announcing an update last month. It has reignited the debate about PSA testing in Australia.

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URO TODAY: The common claim that PSA testing leads to high and unacceptable levels of prostate cancer over-detection – and therefore over-treatment – is an exaggeration, according to a presentation at the 107th annual meeting of the New York Section of the American Urology Association. READ MORE>

In this 69-page slide presentation, Dr William J Catalona – the US “father” of the PSA test – analyses a number of studies of PSA testing and seeks to discredit those which show testing leads to over-diagnosis and treatment:

Over-detection is a relatively small issue when considered in the context of the larger issue of preventing suffering and death from prostate cancer, especially when good clinical judgement is used and patients receive appropriate, effective and high quality treatment.

He is critical of what he calls the premature reporting of two big randomised studies of PSA testing earlier this year, saying much more followup time is needed before meaningful results can be obtained.

Notwithstanding that, Dr Catalona – a professor at Northwestern University in the US –  refers to the European study (ERSPC) in making this observation about whether men should choose to be tested:

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THE AUSTRALIAN: “When was the last time the epidemiologists treated a 48-year-old man dying of prostate cancer, surrounded by a young family?” asks David Malouf, president of the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand: “We are not talking about statistics, we are talking about human beings.” READ MORE>

In a testy debate in Australia, he was replying to critics of the society’s recent decision to follow the American Urological Association recommendation that men over 40 be offered PSA tests.

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KingPROSTABLOG NZ: While it was a good watch for those of us with a direct interest in prostate cancer, last night’s Larry King Live special programme failed to tackle some of the real issues about the disease.

We heard from a range of famous prostate cancer survivors (always the obvious approach for television) about the necessity of getting yourself tested, but nary a word from the medical bureaucracy which declines to buy in.

No government on earth has agreed to population-based testing for prostate cancer, not even for high-risk sub-groups like African Americans, or Maori.

The reasons for that would have been worth debating on a programme like King’s, whose reach via CNN is global and powerful.

Instead, we got a parade of survivors who said what all survivors (like me) will always say: “If I hadn’t had the PSA and the digital exam I wouldn’t be here today.”

That’s useful, of course, because it puts pressure on the authorities who seem to be unreasonably denying the “test them all” lobby. But it’s useful only in the sense of presenting a polemical argument – that is, one-sided.

If that was the sole objective, it would have been more effective for King to host patients for whom testing was either not done or came too late – those who are dying from prostate cancer.

He mentioned some (like the character who went off to his yacht in the Med rather than face treatment, so subsequently died), but he needed to present such heart-breaking stories via live testimony.

An alarming aspect of the show was some of the survivors didn’t know what they were talking about.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, for example, said he was still monitored – “but there’s nothing to check”.

Uh oh. The Walter Reed Hospital he so fondly plugged at every opportunity need to tell him something about biochemical recurrence. Not helpful, Colin.

The radiation oncologist on the show, Dr Christopher Rose, was impressive and impassive, but seemed  conflicted about whether he needed to explain some of the issues more thoroughly. The ephemeral nature of TV defeated him.

Joe Torre, the baseball manager, was the best talent, coming across as a modest, avuncular man who was just counting his blessings. His advocacy for changing diet was very helpful.

The boss of the US Prostate Cancer Foundation, Mike Milken, was an articulate speaker who has learned the priceless lesson of short, succinct sound-bites.

We knew why famous John McEnroe was there, and it certainly wasn’t anything to do with the ability to communicate.

I doubt he finished a sentence. It’s now apparent he spluttered and fumed on the tennis court because he couldn’t make himself understood by all those long-suffering umpires.

Larry King seemed well briefed on prostate cancer, probably because he has addressed the subject many times, as shown in clips of past interviews with various celebrity sufferers “coming out”.

The fact he hosted this hour-long show deserves credit, because if nothing else it helped raise awareness.

Just a pity the opportunity was not taken to wrangle some of the real issues, especially the unresolved question of screening.

The programme will probably be searchable on the Larry King Live website soon. SEE HERE>

Just one last point: why do we persist in using the term “digital examination”?

The non-prostate people, the civilians if you like, who endured the programme with me last night (it finished just before the rugby, luckily) kept asking: “What’s this digital thing? Is it something to do with computers?”

Quite. I guess we’ve never had something called an “analogue” examination.

Can we dispense with the euphemisms and start calling it what it is – a rectal examination.

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AUGUST 1: NEW PROSTATE CANCER INFOLINK: The American Urological Association Foundation is developing a new “National Urology Research Agenda”. CLICK HERE> to take a poll on what prostate cancer treatment and research priorities should be.

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PROSTATE INQUIRY: What’s caused NZ government to revisit prostate screening issue?

JUNE 21: PROSTABLOG NZ: While the hopes of those pushing for prostate cancer screening were buoyed by last week’s NZ Government announcement of a select committee inquiry, the chances anything will change are uncertain.

Politicians, even those with medical backgrounds, must rely heavily on the advice of experts when it comes to health policymaking, and any signs the experts are about to change their views on this complex issue are not encouraging.

Medical people with an interest in prostate cancer have been waiting for most of this century to hear the results of a couple of massive, long-term, random studies on PSA testing and screening, which were expected to prove one way or another whether population-based screening is the right thing to do.

Mention of the trials, in the US and Europe, peppers the research papers of medical academics, especially those most opposed to screening all men, the epidemiologists.

The trial results are now in (published in the New England Journalism of Medicine in March) and those looking for irrefutable evidence either way will have been disappointed. The Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation went so far as to say the trials were flawed and the results suspect.

NZ’s Ministry of Health has been keeping an eye on all this, it says, and one of its committees met last month to discuss these and other recent findings.

The MOH promised a statement after this process, but has kept quiet, and instead the prostate community on June 18 got news of the new parliamentary inquiry.

The announcement, incidentally, came more than a month after the Health Select Committee actually made its inquiry decision, which on Parliament’s official website is dated May 27.Select committee

So what’s happened?

It seems a confluence of the following has produced the right conditions for something to happen, a perfect storm:

•    a new government, Minister of Health, and Health Select Committee;
•    a five-year gap back to the last official review of NZ’s prostate screening policy;
•    the release of the randomised studies’ results;
•    and with that, an upsurge in world-wide debate;
•    the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ’s quiet and consistent lobbying in favour of some sort of screening;
•    continuing horrific statistics for Maori men, who die of prostate cancer at twice the rate of non-Maori;
•    and high current interest in prostate cancer from researchers and drug companies, especially in the US.

The political aspect of this development is the most under-reported (NZ media coverage of prostate cancer tends to be sporadic and superficial) and therefore potentially the most interesting.

The Health Select Committee last examined prostate screening in 2006.

The then-committee – comprising MPs Sue Kedgley (chairperson), Maryan Street (deputy chairperson), Dr Jackie Blue, Dr Jonathan Coleman, Jo Goodhew, Ann Hartley, Sue Moroney, Hon Tony Ryall (now Minister of Health), Lesley Soper, Barbara Stewart and Tariana Turia – considered a 2005 petition from ACT MP Muriel Newman (signed by 585 others) calling for a change in screening policy.

After hearing Ministry of Health advice, the committee rejected Newman’s call for population-based screening, but recommended the government develop up-to-date guidelines to assist GPs and their patients make decisions about testing and treatment. The MOH produced these in 2007.

In its report, the committee also said:  “We recommend that the Government evaluate the evidence of the two trials that are presently being conducted into whether screening can reduce the incidence of death from prostate cancer, and re-assess its policies as soon as they are completed.”

In opposition over the past decade, National MPs and one of their natural allies, ACT, have been vociferous in questioning what they saw as lack of action by the Labour-led government.

Many of these parliamentarians – Muriel Newman and NZ First list MP Barbara Stewart notable among them – are now out of Parliament, but two remain who have voiced their concerns in Parliament about prostate cancer.

One is chairman of the new Health Select Committee, former clinician Dr Paul Hutchison, who featured in the House on September 14, 2004, when he pushed then Labour Minister of Health Annette King to concede the Government wasn’t doing enough about prostate cancer.

She conceded nothing, and stuck with her MOH advice.

Here’s how Hansard recorded the exchange:

September 14, 2004: Dr Paul Hutchison to the Minister of Health: Does the Ministry of Health have a view on the value of initiating a ‘prostate awareness’ campaign; if not why not?

Hon Annette King (Minister of Health): Yes. The Ministry supports the views of the National Health Committee which does not recommend prostate screening for asymptomatic men because of its lack of proven benefit and the potential for harm arising from unnecessary radiotherapy, surgery or other treatment at this stage, but we will continue to monitor international trends and research.

The committee has, however, published information regarding issues men need to consider when seeking prostate screening tests in the brochure Checking for Prostate Cancer, Information for men and their families. This brochure is available on the New Zealand Guidelines Group’s website: http://www.nzgg.org.nz.

Hutchison: Is she satisfied that the April 2004 report of the National Health Committee relating to prostate cancer screening provided up to date and best practice advice; if not why not?

King: Yes.

Hutchison: What specific public health programmes are available to alert men to health problems such as prostate cancer; if there are none, why not?

King: There are no specific health programmes to alert men to prostate cancer because routinely checking men without symptoms of prostate cancer is not recommended. However, I refer the member to written question No 13279 regarding the National Health Committee and New Zealand Guidelines Group’s brochure on this issue. For initiatives in other health programmes, I refer the member to written question No 13269 (2004).

Hutchison: What advice does the Health Ministry recommend to men, specifically to help prevent and achieve early detection of prostate cancer, and if not why not?

King: The Ministry of Health endorses the guidance produced by the National Health Committee, which states that men who have concerns should see their GP. These guidelines are available on the National Health Committee website (http://www.nhc.govt.nz/publications.html).

The second is National list MP Dr Blue (another former clinician), who questioned the government in 2006 and 2007.

Here’s how she is recorded in Hansard:

October 16, 2006: Dr Jackie Blue to the Minister of Health: Has any preliminary work been done by the Ministry of Health on the costing and logistics of a prostate cancer screening programme; if so what are the results of any preliminary work?

Hon Pete Hodgson (Minister of Health) replied: In April 2004 the National Health Committee (NHC) published its report to the Minister of Health on prostate screening in New Zealand. The report did not recommend population based screening for prostate cancer. No further work has been done by the Ministry of Health on the costing and logistics of an organised population based screening programme.

Blue: When did PSA or prostate specific antigen testing become available in New Zealand?

Hodgson: The Ministry of Health is not aware of the exact date the PSA test became available in New Zealand. However, statistics in the publication Cancer Trends and Projections indicate that the PSA test was being more widely used from the 1990s onwards.

Blue: How does New Zealand’s current prostate cancer screening guidelines compare to Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and European countries?

Hodgson: New Zealand’s current policy on prostate cancer screening is the same as Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and European countries, and aligns with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

Blue: Have the interim results of the prostate cancer screening trials involving hundreds of thousands of men in Europe and the United States been made available to the Ministry of Health; if so, what are the preliminary results; if they are not available, when are they expected to be available?

Hodgson: The Ministry of Health is aware of two large randomised trials occurring in Europe and the United States. The first interim results of these studies are expected by the end of this year.

Blue: What resources does the Ministry of Health provide to general practitioners regarding prostate cancer screening; when were they last updated?

Hodgson: The Ministry of Health has published a pamphlet Screening for Prostate Cancer for health care practitioners, which is currently being updated. The pamphlet was produced by the New Zealand Guidelines Group in 2004 and is available on the Group’s website (www.nzgg.org.nz).

Blue: What are the current guidelines for prostate cancer screening; when were these last updated?

Hodgson: There are no New Zealand guidelines for prostate cancer.

February 27, 2007: Dr Jackie Blue: Can the Minister guarantee that updated breast cancer surgical guidelines will be forthcoming, or will it be like the long-awaited update of the prostate cancer guidelines on the Ministry of Health website, which were promised 16 months ago but still nothing has happened?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The guidelines are under development now.

How do others on the eight-member committee stand?

One, Green Party list MP Kevin Hague, has declared his opposition to the inquiry even before it’s begun. The deputy-chair, Ruth Dyson, has on occasion been a defender of Labour’s “no-screening” policy over the past three terms.

The views of the other four might become apparent in a thorough search of Hansard, but are not prominent.

What are those in favour of screening up against as they prepare their submissions for the committee’s hearings, whose terms of reference will be announced this coming Wednesday (June 23)?

One of the strongest opponents is Ann K Richardson, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, whose 2005 paper for the NZ Medical Journal said the following:

“The results from autopsy studies and the Finasteride trial are a warning.

“If healthy men have PSA tests, some will be diagnosed with prostate cancer that they would otherwise never have known about, and that would never have threatened their lives. This would be bad enough, but many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are offered treatment such as radiotherapy or surgery, and these treatments have significant side effects. The potential side effects include impotence, incontinence, diarrhoea, and death.

“Some of the men who suffer these side effects would never have known they had prostate cancer in the absence of screening, so they will have been directly harmed as a consequence of being screened.

“Although it is possible to understand and perhaps explain opposing views on prostate cancer screening, examining the risks and benefits shows that prostate cancer screening is not justified at present.

“Whether there is any benefit from prostate cancer screening is unknown. It is inappropriate to support screening in the hope that it will be found to be beneficial, since this would be gambling with men’s health.

“Prostate cancer screening fails to meet criteria for screening, and carries potentially serious risks. In the absence of conclusive evidence of benefit, it is entirely possible that prostate cancer screening could cause more harm than good. Therefore, at present, it is unethical to offer prostate cancer screening.

“In the future, screening should only be offered if the randomised controlled trials of prostate screening that are currently underway, demonstrate a benefit.”

The debate about prostate cancer screening has been quiet for a while.

One of it’s most memorable moments came on April Fool’s Day, 2004, when a Ministry of Health-hosted body called the National Health Committee made the following announcement: ‘No, not yet, to prostate cancer screening.’

The question remains: will those who didn’t get the joke then have any reason to laugh sometime later this year when the latest examination of this controversy that won’t go away reports back?

Making submissions to select committee: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/SC/MakeSub/

Email committee chair: paul.hutchison@parliament.govt.nz

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JUNE 10: NEW PROSTATE CANCER INFO-LINK: The American Urological Association (AUA) has just published its June issue of AUA News complete with various “take home ” messages on prostate cancer from the annual meeting at the end of April. READ MORE>

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JUNE 7: URO TODAY:  Most men develop urinary retention after external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), after brachytherapy with or without EBRT, and in those who have a combination of EBRT and a radical prostatectomy.  The problem urologists are facing is how to manage the obstructing and radiated prostate, a researcher told a US urology conference in Chicago. READ MORE>

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