Tom Perkins’ Opinion on the USPSTF Recommendations on PSA Screening

May 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

Tom Perkins is renowned Venture Capitalist in Silicon Valley. He partnered with Eugene Kleiner in the 1970′s to form Kleiner & Perkins Company. This is the company that developed the diagnostic test Known as Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test.

Recently, the US Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that the use of the PSA Test as a screening procedure for prostate cancer is not beneficial and cannot help to extend the lives of patients.

Details of this recommendation did not go down well with many doctors and patients that have benefited from its usage. Still, it did not go down well with Tom Perkins who has helped to develop the Test and also have benefited immensely from it. The following article reveals his opinion:

 A recent announcement by the U.S. Preventative Health Service can rather simply be summed up: Most men eventually get prostate cancer, but most don’t die from it; those who do are mostly over 75 years of age, so that ends their continuing burden on the public purse. Further, early and prolonged testing is expensive, and can lead to medical complications from biopsy examination.

Happily I can report that I have successfully completed my 80th trip around the sun. A few years ago prostate cancer was detected by my annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test; it was of a particularly aggressive type, as revealed by a routine biopsy.

That test led to surgery, radiation and hormone therapy.

Unfortunately, the cancer returned, and for the last couple of years I have been undergoing both routine and quite advanced experimental therapies, and everything has been monitored and controlled by PSA tests. Happily, the cancer has been knocked off its feet, and though not eliminated, it is controlled to the point that I am writing this from Fiji where I am actively scuba diving every day. (Fiji is a marvelous place for that sport, my favorite.)

Life is full of ironies. The PSA test was developed by a Kleiner & Perkins company, Hybritech, in the mid 1970s. How happy I am that Eugene Kleiner and I backed that effort so long ago; the partnership no longer has the remotest financial interest in the field, so these thoughts are not motivated by any residual economic involvement.

It’s hard to avoid a political aside, so I won’t try. A healthy market-driven free economy leads to innovation and the development of breakthroughs, like the PSA test. A highly taxed and highly regulated economy leads to “Death Panels,” like the U.S. Preventative Health Service. Source.

It is logical and natural that Mr. Perkins will not agree with the US Preventive Health Service’s recommendation. He was a co partner in the development to the test. However, the importance of this test in helping him monitor his cancer status all these years should not be overlooked.

One begins to question if really the recommendations of the Panels was political? Mr. Perkins has made his point and many people out there would show support towards his side.

I will still want to know if the USPSTF is part of the “Death Panels” that sprang up as a result of “highly taxed and highly regulated economy“.

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  10. PSA Prostate Cancer Screening – Who Needs It?
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