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  • Health & Medicine

Coverage of the PSA/prostate cancer screening trials

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

23 March 2009

1 comment 1 comment

A magnifying glass

There was extensive coverage of the prostate cancer screening trials last week

In the wake of the publication of two large trials on prostate cancer screening on Wednesday, there’s been a fair bit of coverage and comment.

Somewhat disappointingly, the UK print media chose to focus on the positive results of the ERSPC trial, without the context of the PLCO trial’s less clear-cut results.

This particularly riled Bad Science columnist Ben Goldacre, who wrote a damning piece for the Guardian

Taking the two studies together, Dr Len Lichtenfield on the American Cancer Society’s blog, was disappointed but yet philosophical:

Have you ever wanted something for such a long time that when it finally arrived you found yourself terribly disappointed? 

… At first blush, my reaction was that these studies don’t really give us the answer we were waiting for.  But on further reflection, maybe they did-sort of like not making a decision is in fact a decision. Perhaps not getting a clear answer to the question as to the value of prostate cancer screening is in fact a clear answer.

At the end of the day, each of us will have to be our own judge on the merits of the case and what we want to do for ourselves when it comes to the early detection of prostate cancer.

While the ever-excellent NHS Choices site published a comprehensive breakdown of the ERSPC trial, putting it in context with the PLCO results.

And on BBC Radio 5 Live, The American Cancer Society’s Chief Medical Officer gave another US perspective on the trials (interview starts after 1hr 8mins, requires Real Player). 

Finally, the New England Journal itself hosted a round-table discussion with a panel of experts on the matter that’s definitely worth a watch.



  • Prostate
    4 October 2011

    It’s interesting to see the progress that’s been made in these 2 years.


  • Prostate
    4 October 2011

    It’s interesting to see the progress that’s been made in these 2 years.