By Richard J. Ablin – New York Times.
Scientific data from clinical trials provides the foundation of medical decision making, from a doctor’s prescription pad to sweeping public health policies.
Public trust that the data is accurate and unbiased is the glue that binds our $3 trillion health care system. I worry that this trust, particularly when it comes to American men and their physicians and screening programs for prostate cancer, is now at risk.
In 1970 I discovered the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, which is now the most widely used tool in prostate screenings. But there has been a growing concern about whether the use of the PSA test has led to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, with millions of unnecessary surgeries, complications and deaths.
Nevertheless, the medical community has roundly embraced the results of a recent study finding that PSA screening reduced prostate cancer deaths by 20 percent. The study, the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer, joined another survey, the so-called Swedish Goteborg study (the results of which provided a basis for the European Randomized Study), which found an astounding 44 percent reduction.
But there’s a big problem with both of these studies…read more.