The man who discovered the PSA test for prostate cancer now says the test is so overused it has become a public health disaster with an annual price tag of $3 billion in wasted testing.
Dr. Richard Ablin writes an op-ed piece in the New York Times calling for the test to be abandoned for routine cancer screening for men over age 50. At most the test is useful in men with a family history of prostate cancer and also useful to detect cancer coming back in men who have already has their prostates removed for cancer.
Dr. Ablin notes that the appropriate use of the test is a tiny portion of the amount of testing now occurring, driven by those who profit from use of the test. He concludes:
I never dreamed that my discovery four decades ago would lead to such a profit-driven public health disaster. The medical community must confront reality and stop the inappropriate use of P.S.A. screening. Doing so would save billions of dollars and rescue millions of men from unnecessary, debilitating treatments.
As this blog noted in an entry a year ago, large studies have been published showing that the PSA test saves very few, if any lives, when used for routine screening, and it causes many men to undergo unnecessary, painful and potentially harmful biopsies and surgery.