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To Screen or not to Screen often patient choice

To Screen or not to Screen often patient choice

Many patients choose to be screened for prostate cancer despite the lack of good evidence on the effectiveness of screening, according to Blenheim GP Dr Jim Vause, incoming president of the College of GPs.

He was commenting on a survey published in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal, which found most GPs were screening for prostate cancer in patients where there was no evidence to suggest the screening would reduce the number of deaths from the disease.

John Durham, Melissa Low and Deborah McLeod carried out the Screening for Prostate Cancer: a Survey of New Zealand General Practitioners, using a questionnaire sent randomly to 575 GPs, of which 66.3 percent responded.

“The reality is that GPs give patients information on the risks and the benefits of screening for prostate cancer,” Dr Vause said, aiming to empower the patients to make an informed choice.

He said the balance of risk versus benefit was changing with the ongoing research into prostate cancer screening, and it was timely that the New Zealand Guidelines Group was currently reviewing scientific literature in order that both doctors and patients have good quality information.

“Prostate cancer comes in many grades of severity,” Dr Vause said, “and the effectiveness of treatment remains uncertain. But research has demonstrated significant improvement in survival rates for the most sinister prostate cancers with early treatment.”

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