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NZMA supports screening recommendation

NZMA supports screening recommendation

The New Zealand Medical Association supports the National Health Committee's recommendation that prostate cancer screening not be introduced in New Zealand.

In a report to the Minister of Health today, the NHC found there is no conclusive evidence that screening for prostate cancer reduces illness or death, or lengthens life.

NZMA Chairman Dr Tricia Briscoe said prostate cancer is a serious disease for men and, with much debate about this issue, it is commendable and timely that the NHC has carried out a comprehensive review of the most up-top-date evidence about screening.

"For a screening programme to be effective, the benefits must outweigh the potential harm," Dr Briscoe said. "While individual men may report good results after being tested for prostate cancer, it is important that we go down the path which will lead to the best outcomes for the majority of men.

"Most men who get prostate cancer will die with it, but not from it. In fact, many may never know they have prostate cancer, and will have no symptoms,” Dr Briscoe said.

"In light of this, and because current tests have very high false positive and false negative results, and because current treatments for prostate cancer have many unpleasant side-effects, at this stage a population screening programme would have little benefit.”

"We commend the NHC for reviewing this issue, and we support examining this issue again in the near future when testing may have improved," Dr Briscoe concluded.

The NZMA urges men who are experiencing symptoms to see their doctor.


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