Shouldn’t there be a National Screening for Prostate Cancer?

April 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

Cancer of the prostate comes grows in stages. The staging system for it begins from Stage I to Stage IV. The early the stages, the lesser would be the effects or symptoms, and the higher the chance of survival. Therefore early detection is a key factor in achieving effective treatment for the disease.

There has been clamoring for national screening for prostate cancer, but most experts in the medical professions are against this call. One now wonders if this is not contradictory since doctors are supposed to encourage members of the public to go for early screening. Here is an online extract on this topic:

Some experts say there is no need for a national screening programme for prostate cancer – although almost half of patients begin treatment at a stage when the chance of survival is slim.

The latest health authority figures showed that in 2010, 41 per cent of patients were either found to have the disease or began treatment at stage four, when the five-year survival rate drops to about 30 per cent.

Yet many doctors believe national screening is not necessary, said Dr Jalaa Taher, section head of cancer control and prevention at the Heath Authority-Abu Dhabi.

“All patients should report any symptoms early,” said Dr Taher. “Doctors should also screen people but we still don’t recommend a national screening programme.”

Some patients in whom the condition is diagnosed at an early stage refuse treatment because of side-effects, which can include impotence and incontinence.

“They only agree to take treatment when the cancer had started to metastasise [spread to other parts of the body],” said Dr Taher.

According to Cancer Research UK, the five-year survival rate for men found to have the disease at stage one or two is almost 100 per cent. This falls to between 70 and 80 per cent at stage three.

Thanks to new technology, which is still under trial in the UK, side-effects may eventually disappear.

According to the most recent Lancet Oncology journal, a 41-patient study found that ultrasound treatment could reduce the risk of impotence and incontinence.

But while more is being done to improve treatment, doctors must still keep a close eye on high-risk patients, said Dr Taher.

Men older than 50 who show symptoms – such as an inability to urinate or an increase in nocturnal urination – should automatically be screened using PSA, the prostate specific antigen blood test.

Screening includes a clinical exam, a rectal sonogram and the PSA test. The last can be done annually.

in 2008 the national health insurance company, Daman, made annual screenings free for men aged 45 and older.

In 2010, 53 men – a third of them Emiratis – were found to have prostate cancer, and there were seven deaths last year. This is the most recent data available.

Despite the lack of a national screening programme, the incidence of prostate cancer in the UAE is low, said Dr Taher.

“All the well-respected health authorities don’t recommend conducting screening programmes,” he said. “But as it is included in Thiqa [the insurance programme for UAE nationals], if they want to have it, or if there is some history of it in their family, they can get it done.

“We have different kinds of cancer, so why don’t we screen for all of them? We screen according to the progression of the disease.”

A screening programme would not be cost-effective, said Dr Taha Ibrahim, the hospital director of Al Noor Hospital. “Prostate cancer in this area is not that high. Because of that, there is no stimulus for an active screening programme.”Click here for the full report.

Finally, the above extract has confirmed the fears of the Medical experts. It is either that data from such screenings would not be reliable for diagnoses, or that the procedure would be quite expensive. However, one thing has been established and this is the fact that early detection for prostate cancer can help to improve the chance of survival for the patient.

Therefore, even when legislations do not mandated all to go for screening; it is invaluable to go for early screening. This becomes necessary if you have a family history or any other risk factor of the cancer. Remember, cancer of the prostate is the second highest killer after lung caner for men.



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