PSA Advocates Earn Victory with Medicare

Posted by Prostate Seed Institute on August 13th, 2016

An estimated 180,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Many of these men receive their diagnosis after results of routine prostate-specific antigen tests prompt further screening to confirm or deny the disease’s presence. The PSA test, however, has been a controversial topic as of late with Medicare even considering the option of penalizing doctors who choose to use it on a “non-recommended” basis to screen for the disease.

That threat of penalization has likely been beaten back by advocates who say the PSA remains a valuable tool. The American Urological Association, in fact, has stated it will recommend that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services not move forward with the measure. This organization is a key advisory group for Medicare whose opinion tends to carry a fair amount of sway.

The PSA is well proven to produce a fair number of false positives for prostate cancer. Given that false positives may lead men in the direction of undergoing invasive additional testing, such as biopsies, a change in this test’s recommended use was issued a few years ago. The United States Preventative Services Task Force essentially took the PSA off the table for use in routine screening. This move, however, has led to alarm among doctors who say it still serves as a valuable tool in cancer detection. What’s more, advocates have found repeat poor results of PSAs can be used instead of a single bad reading to more readily screen for cancer with a greater degree of accuracy.

Despite the outcry in favor of the PSA, the government has been seriously considering the penalty for use of this test for routine screening. Doing so, some doctors fear, might lead to more men not undergoing earlier screening and a rise in the number of advanced cases of prostate cancer being diagnosed. Although far from perfect, the PSA serves as an early warning alarm for the potential of this disease’s presence. Prostate cancer, when caught early, is often highly treatable. More advanced cases, however, tend to have less bright outcomes.

An estimated 26,000 American men die from prostate cancer annually. As new tools for early screening are being developed and tested, the PSA remains a popular detection tool. Since all men are at risk for prostate cancer, it is recommended that screening begin in middle-age. Should cancer be suspected, men are urged to talk to their healthcare providers about all of their available options. Waiting for a second elevated PSA to confirm the first, for example, may be advised in many cases. 

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Dr. Echt and his team at the Prostate Seed Institute offer the most highly sophisticated methods of radiation therapy available in the United States, equal to that found in major medical center and academic settings. These include prostate seed implantation, high dose radiation implants, and external beam radiation with image-guided and intensity-modulated (IGRT and IMRT) capabilities.

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Prostate Seed Institute
Joined: September 17th, 2015
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