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Prostate Cancer Canada reminds men that early detection using ‘Smart Screening’ for prostate cancer can save lives

Toronto, ON – October 27, 2014 – Prostate Cancer Canada responds today to guidelines released from The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) recommending that the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test should be eliminated as a screening tool for prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Canada disagrees with the recommendations and wants to remind Canadians that when performed appropriately, the benefits of PSA screening far outweigh the negatives. According to new research based on modelling estimates, if PSA testing was eliminated, the cases of advanced (metastatic) prostate cancer would double, resulting in an estimated 13-20 per cent increase in prostate cancer deaths annually.[i]

“It’s simple. Early detection saves lives, especially when it comes to prostate cancer. Eliminating the PSA test would mean not screening for prostate cancer, and if that happens, where does that leave us?  Men deserve the right to know their risk,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada. “In an age of informed healthcare, we believe the PSA test is one of the most powerful tools we have; early detection can be the difference between life and death.”

Prostate Cancer Canada believes PSA testing should be used as part of “smart screening”, a personalized approach where men are tested to establish a baseline number. Subsequent tests are performed to monitor any changes to the baseline. If a change is detected, the patient and his health care provider should discuss a course of action based on his personal risk factors. This could include other diagnostic procedures such as a digital rectal exam, biopsy or even an MRI. 
Many individuals within the health care community agree with Prostate Cancer Canada and think it would be irresponsible to discontinue testing: “The PSA test is merely the first step in the process to detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages when there are more treatment options. While a single PSA test on its own will not diagnose prostate cancer, it is used as another variable to calculate an individual’s personal risk of prostate cancer and allow for tailored clinical follow-up,” explains Dr. Laurence Klotz, a urologist with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. “We need to remove the association of the PSA test as a diagnostic for prostate cancer and instead regard it as a valuable predictor of risk.”
The PSA test may not be perfect but it’s the best indicator in clinical practice today and an important red flag to show something may be wrong. The goal of screening is to reduce late detection when death from the disease becomes much more likely.
“This isn’t a black and white issue,” says Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Vice President, Research, Health Promotion and Survivorship at Prostate Cancer Canada. “You can’t abandon testing when there’s research out there that says it’s useful, particularly in the absence of anything better. We believe that when the results are properly interpreted, the benefits of PSA screening outweigh the risks of not screening.”
Currently, statistics show that more than 90 per cent of prostate cancers are found locally for which the five year survival rate is close to 100 per cent.[ii]
“The statistics for survival thanks to early detection are unprecedented when compared to other cancers so why wouldn’t we want to ensure every man has those odds,” says Rocco Rossi. “The PSA test is a simple blood test, and combined with other risk factors, it’s an important indicator a doctor can use to save your life.“
About the PSA Test
An elevated PSA reading is currently the best early warning sign available that can provide a red flag to explore issues further, which is why Prostate Cancer Canada strongly disagrees with the CTFPHC  recommendations around PSA testing for asymptomatic men and instead encourages health care professionals to practice “smart screening”.
“PSA testing saved my life. When I was 45 my doctor was reluctant to perform a PSA test because of my age, but I insisted. Thankfully I did because it was the only test that we did that flagged there was an issue,” says Jim Sullivan, prostate cancer survivor. “People like me – fathers, brothers and husbands – may not be so lucky if PSA testing is no longer used as a screening tool.”
About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men (excluding skin cancers) and is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men in Canada[iii]. The risk of prostate cancer increases as men age. It usually grows slowly and can often be completely removed or managed successfully if detected and treated early. Estimated amount of new cases and number of deaths due to cancer in 2014:
  • 23,600 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer representing 24 per cent of all new cancer cases in men
  • 4,000 men will die from prostate cancer
  • Roughly every day, 65 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • On average every day, 11 Canadian men will die from prostate cancer[iv]

To learn more, visit www.supportpsatests.ca.
About Prostate Cancer Canada
Prostate Cancer Canada develops, offers and funds innovative programs related to awareness and public education, advocacy, support of those affected, and research into the prevention, detection, treatment and cure of prostate cancer. For more information visit prostatecancer.ca and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Visit www.supportpsatests.ca for more information and to share facts about PSA testing. 
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For more information, or to book an interview, please contact:
Sydney Dare
Environics Communications

[i]Gulati, R. et al. Expected population impacts of discontinued prostate-specific antigen screening. Cancer doi:10.1002/cncr.28932
[ii] American Cancer Society, 2012
[iii] Cancer Statistics at a Glance. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/prostate/statistics/?region=on (Last accessed October 13, 2014)
[iv] Prostate Cancer Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/prostate/statistics/?region=on (Last accessed October 13, 2014)

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