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Prizes For Prostates: Have A PSA Test, Get Game Tickets

We’ve seen it before. A couple of years ago, I wrote about Roswell Park’s Prostate Club for Men offering “Prizes For Prostates” — Buffalo Sabres hockey tickets or Buffalo Bills football tickets among other awards for men who showed proof that they talked to their doctor about prostate cancer.

Now a bunch of Georgia radiotherapy centers and the Morehouse School of Medicine are among those promoting the “Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition” and luring men in for PSA blood tests by offering them Atlanta Hawks basketball tickets.Hawks tix for PSA.jpg

They also promote this misleading statistic: “One in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.” No explanation is given of what lifetime risk means. And no explanation is given of how many of these “cancers” are indolent and would never have harmed a man. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

“Simple Blood Test” For Cancer: Breakthrough Or Nightmare?

That’s the question Dartmouth’s Dr. Gil Welch asks in a column on the CNN website. He reflects on [recent] news about a test in development that might find a single cancer cell among a billion healthy ones — as so many news stories framed it. Welch analyzes:

“But it’s not that simple. The test could just as easily start a cancer epidemic.

Most assume there are no downsides to looking for things to be wrong. But the truth is that early diagnosis is a double-edged sword. While it has the potential to help some, it always has a hidden side-effect: overdiagnosis, the detection of abnormalities that are not destined to ever bother people in their lifetime.

Becoming a patient unnecessarily has real human costs. There’s the anxiety of being told you are somehow not healthy. There’s the problem that getting a diagnosis may affect your ability to get health insurance. There are the headaches of renewing prescriptions, scheduling appointments and keeping them. Finally, there are the physical harms of treatments that cannot help (because there is nothing to fix): drug side-effects, surgical complications and even death. Not to mention it can bankrupt you.

Americans don’t need more diagnoses, they need the right diagnoses.

I don’t know whether this test will help some patients. It might, but it will take years to figure that out. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

New Pap Smear Guidelines: The Right Care Or Rationed Care?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently reiterated their position that Pap smears should be performed on healthy women starting at age 21. This is different from the past which recommended screening for cervical cancer at either three years after the time a woman became sexually active or age 21, whichever occurred first.

How will the public respond to this change?

Over the past year there have been plenty of announcements from the medical profession regarding to the appropriateness of PSA screening for prostate cancer and the timing of mammogram screening for breast cancer. Understandably, some people may view these changes in recommendations as the rationing of American healthcare. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

PSA Screening Not Recommended: NY Daily News Still Doesn’t Care

Headlines every day in the New York Daily News are luring men in as part of a mass prostate cancer screening campaign that the American Cancer Society not only does not endorse, but its chief medical officer recommends against. Yet the paper brags that it’s beginning its second decade of this non-evidence-based campaign. Sample headlines:

• Doctors urge New York men to take advantage of free, city-wide PSA testing

• What you don’t know can kill you. Get a FREE prostate cancer test. It can save your life

• Bring dad in for FREE prostate cancer test across the city on Father’s Day


• Don’t skip the PSA test! My prostate cancer is treatable because simple test caught it early (written by a Daily News staffer). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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